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Open College Network West Midlands Centres: Lifetime learning for all

Dudley College

Innovation in developing new pathways and online provision for Access to Higher Education learners.

In this case study Lesley Troth, Head of Access to HE at Dudley College, showcases how the relationship with Open College Network West Midlands has facilitated significant improvements to Dudley College’s Access to HE provision.
“We have always found Open College Network West Midlands to be very supportive of all the work we do and provide a range of training to ensure the practice is excellent.”  Lesley Troth, Dudley College
We have worked with Open College Network West Midlands for a number of years during which time our Access provision has developed with a range of new pathways and several intakes each academic year.
We have always found Open College Network West Midlands to be very supportive of all the work we do and provide a range of training to ensure the practice is excellent. There is a real focus on quality for the provision and outcome for learners and we have actively engaged with all of our allocated external moderators throughout the quality monitoring processes and accessing their expertise with any new units and assessment strategies for advice and guidance.

As a team we have embraced the many changes with the Diploma and actively provide professional input with Diplomas under review.

We have run  a pilot group of health students who  completed their Diploma through a blended learning route with a small percentage of units being delivered through Pearl online. This enabled them to attend college one day per week offering an option for those who cannot commit to more time in college. This is currently working well and students are about to be introduced to the online learning elements of their course.

We found when the Diplomas changed a few years ago that some students needed to complete some study prior to starting their Access Diploma at Level three and we introduced the Open College Network West Midlands Skills for Further Study  Level 2 qualification to develop skills confidence and academic writing. We had one student who started with us at ESOL Entry 2 who progressed yearly through a variety of courses including the  Open College Network West Midlands Skills for Further Study in Health Level 2 qualification.  She is on target to complete her Access Diploma with the required grades to then accept her Adult Nursing from September 2017. We have found that learners who have completed the Level 2 study thrive really well on their Access Diploma.
Dudley College offer a range of Open College Network West Midlands pathways to include:
  • Access to HE Diploma Health (3 entry points each year)
  • Access to HE Diploma Midwifery (2 entry points yearly)
  • Access to HE Diploma Medicine and Allied Professions
  • Access to HE Diploma Science
  • Access to HE Diploma Education
  • Access to HE Diploma Social Science (2 entry points yearly)
  • Access to HE Diploma Sport Science.
Staff in the team are all very experienced and have taught on the Access Diplomas over an extensive period of time. Together with the dissemination of information through the Access to HE Coordinator all staff attend the standardisation events and training through Open College Network West Midlands which gives them the knowledge and skills to perform their roles effectively. This year we have welcomed a Midwife to the team who will deliver the specialist Units on the new Midwifery Diploma.
Potential students are encouraged to apply online and then they are invited in for a talk about the Access Diploma and have an interview with a course tutor. In most cases offers can be made at interview and then students will receive a confirmation letter with instructions for applying for their advanced learning loan. They are then invited in to enrol for their course where they then receive a copy of their timetable. We have several groups and delivery options which gives us some flexibility to meet the leaners needs when combining study and other commitments.
Students in receipt of the advanced learning loan can also apply for support with child care fees for the days they attend college and in some instances can also apply to borrow a laptop for the duration of their programme.

As a college we are committed to supporting students with their studies through personal tutor and additional learning support if required. In student services we have a dedicated member of staff who can provide group or 1:1 support with Personal Statements for UCAS. We also have college counsellors and a drop in service should this be required which is completely confidential. Any additional support needs can be discussed with personal tutors and referrals made.
Dudley College is a large general FE college, offering a wide range of academic and vocational courses for both 16-18 year olds and mature students. The area is culturally diverse, with 32% of college-based students from ethnic minority groups. The DCLG Deprivation Mapper shows that Dudley College is located in one of the most deprived areas of the country, so our commitment to various Widening Participation schemes is important for our applicants. 
Dudley College is rated Outstanding by Ofsted.
To find out more information about Dudley College please visit their website at
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