College Connect: May 20234th May 2023
Due to the specialist nature of its courses, Askham Bryan College attracts students from across the UK and internationally. For those travelling from further afield, the College provides residential accommodation.
Students who are living on campus benefit from an ‘outstanding’ experience, according to a new Ofsted report. Here Clare Williams, Assistant Principal (Students), shares her thoughts on what makes for a positive residential experience for students.
What is the appeal for students who decide to live on campus?
Living on campus provides students with the full college experience both socially and educationally. Essentially, it puts them at the heart of college life.
We have around 300 residential students from across the UK and internationally at our York campus; some are full-time students, others are on Apprenticeship programmes.
Our residential students study across the full range of our subject areas. Our international students come from all over the world including Norway, Malta and Bermuda.
We know that students value the increased independence from learning to live away from home. Over time, they become confident in taking responsibility for themselves.
At the same time, we understand that starting college is often a new and unknown experience. That is why we provide comprehensive support to enable students to thrive and grow in confidence as well as succeed in their studies.
In terms of the accommodation itself, living in halls is an integral part of students’ campus experience. We provide a range of options to suit different needs and budgets.
The options include rooms with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities, en-suite rooms with a shared snack kitchen or self-catering rooms with shared bathroom facilities.
What did Ofsted’s inspection cover?
Ofsted’s inspection report, published on March 21st, 2023, focuses on our residential facilities, student support services, safeguarding and leadership and management.
Inspectors assessed three areas, all of which have been graded as ‘outstanding’:
1. The overall experience and progress of residential students aged under 18.
2. How well young people are helped and protected.
3. The effectiveness of college leaders and managers.
Can you share some of the report highlights?
We are proud of the fact that students’ emotional health and wellbeing are described by Ofsted as being exceptionally well supported. The inspectors noted that this is having a remarkable effect on residential students’ quality of life and longer-term opportunities.
The report also highlights that staff decision-making is underpinned by what is known as trauma-informed practice.
Essentially, this is an approach to interventions which is grounded in the understanding that trauma exposure can impact an individual’s mental health outcomes, social development, academic attainment and behaviour. We focus on providing positive experiences and improving students’ self-esteem.
This approach makes an exceptional difference to some students, who are able to remain in college and take advantage of the experiences on offer.
We are also pleased that Ofsted has remarked on the accommodation being led by our very skilled, energetic Residential Services Manager who is deeply committed to helping all students to achieve, including those who struggle to settle into college life.
It is important for us to forge strong connections with staff in other agencies, for example, mental health professionals, social workers, and other support services, where appropriate.
The report acknowledges that these links help to inform and improve the work of college safeguarding and wellbeing staff. As a result, students receive timely and creative solutions when they experience difficulties.
Last but not least, inspectors found that leaders ensure that inclusivity is at the heart of students’ college experience.
We are very proud that inspectors described there being remarkable levels of support provided to students who have experienced trauma or disadvantages.
This means that those students with the greatest needs receive the support that they require to meet their potential.
How did staff feel about the residential provision being graded ‘outstanding’?
We are delighted with the report. Ultimately, our priority is to provide a high quality residential experience and learning environment so that students can thrive and that has been recognised by Ofsted.
It’s been a whole team effort and this glowing report is testament to the outstanding experience that our residential students enjoy thanks to the expertise and strong teamwork of our staff.
Where can applicants find out more?
To find out more about applications for residential accommodation, please visit our accommodation page.