By Marianne Curphey Students Canterbury College – Training Provider of the Year (medium) 2018 11 Feb 2019 What does it take to be a training provider that excels in helping students not only to do well in their exams, but also to help them find work when they have qualified? Training Provider of the Year 2018– Medium Canterbury College took home the award for medium sized AAT Training Provider of the Year, after delivering an award-winning submission in 2018. We talk to staff and students about the benefits of studying there. Neil Maguire, Product Manager (Training Providers) at AAT, said that one of the key elements of the successful application was the support that Canterbury College provided for all the students on their course. “The judges were more than happy to crown Canterbury College the runaway winners in this category,” he said. “They were able to display impressive support resources for students, which even included the use of WhatsApp groups to keep students on track! They offer free revision sessions, they actively find employment for students – this submission didn’t leave any stone unturned.” What Canterbury College have to offer Canterbury College is a Further and Higher Education institution in South East England, with campuses in Canterbury and Swale. In total there are about 10,000 students and 800 staff, of which around 200 are studying accountancy at various levels, including those studying AAT. Karen Mccafferty, Business Department Deputy Head, said it was first time the college had entered the awards. “We offer full time and part time courses and part time blended learning,” she says. “We have 16 to 18 year olds on our study programme, 16 + on apprenticeships, and we have mature students, many of them in their 40s and 50s, who are studying for a career. We have a lot of adult returners and career changers.” Their accountancy students are a broad mix of people, with students providing their own support network via WhatsApp so that they can pass on messages and discuss homework and assignments. “Some have worked in the industry, but don’t have a qualification and want to train for an official qualification. In total, there are around 190 accountancy students.” The College has been running courses for more than 25 years and has a great reputation in the local area. The ‘Fun Friday’ sessions and use of accounting games add to the whole sense that this college cares Offering students tailored support “We are good at finding students jobs when they finish their training,” Karen Mccafferty says. “Former students are in a position to recruit and come straight to me to ask whom I can recommend. Once one of our students gets on the career ladder, they are in a position to take on other students and they can come to me if they need a new member of staff.” Malwina Daszkiewicz Malwina Daszkiewicz, 17, a full time student studying for her Foundation Certificate, said that she appreciated the quality of teaching, the support provided by the College, and the interactive aspect of learning. “At my interview Karen suggested that I take AAT’s qualification because there were lots of opportunities in terms of career and further study. I hope to do the Level 3 apprenticeship next year so that I am working and learning and the same time, and can consolidate what I am studying.” She said she particularly enjoyed the fun aspects of the teaching. “I like the way Karen teaches – she incorporates games and self-led learning into the course and that makes it much more interesting. She is also very supportive and available for help and one to one support if you need it.” The next step for Malwina is work experience at Canterbury City Council, where she hopes to get an apprenticeship for her Level 3 course. Sharnie Francis Sharnie Francis, 26, worked for a retail company before deciding that she wanted to change career. She chose Canterbury College to take AAT’s Foundation Certificate and Advanced Diploma qualifications. She successfully passed those exams and is now working at London and South Eastern Railways. “I really enjoyed the courses and the support from the tutors who could not be more helpful,” she says. “I really feel that the courses have helped me progress in my job. The extra support such as tuition sessions outside normal college hours have been so helpful.” Ellie Messenger Ellie Messenger, 21, is currently studying for her Advanced Diploma and is on day release from HatHats Coffee Company in Whitstable. “The courses have been hard work but I am really enjoying them,” she says. “Karen comes and does an assessment with me every six months to see how things are going and if I have any concerns or queries. The out of hours clinics just before the exams are a godsend – they help to calm your nerves and allow you to recap on any areas you feel unsure about. The college has a great reputation and a wide range of students from different backgrounds.” Award winners “Canterbury College was up against some stiff competition in the Training Provider of the Year (medium) category last year,” says Graham Hambly, Editor, PQ Magazine, who was on the judging panel. “The judges loved the way the college involves students at every level,” he says. “Each class elects a member of the group as class representative, who then go to the student parliament meetings. From induction students are empowered to speak to course tutors too. This creates a win-win situation for everyone – it helps with both retention and achievement. “The ‘Fun Friday’ sessions and use of accounting games seemed to add to the whole sense that this college cares, and this passion showed through in its entry.” Marianne Curphey is an award-winning financial writer and columnist, and author of the book How Money Works. She worked as City Editor at The Guardian, deputy editor of Guardian online, and has worked for The Times, Telegraph and BBC.