In 2014 Learning Curve Group, England’s largest education subcontractor partner, celebrated a decade of excellence and achievement – and the year was also noteworthy for other advances besides.
For around the swirl of success of our immensely positive Ofsted report, rising turnover and ever better course pass rates, education policy nationally also shifted for the better and in the direction of our own framework.
Both Conservative and Labour education secretaries spoke of the need for greater vocational education to ensure employees no longer face a struggle to fill skilled jobs.
This matches the basis of much of our own success - our farsighted education model already meeting the vocational aspirations of thousands of learners country-wide, be they in employment and benefitting from greater qualifications in the workplace, or school-leavers setting out on careers and learning new skills in our skill and military centres.
Indeed, January saw the expansion of our services for those seeking careers in the armed and uniformed services. On hand to open our new Military Skill Centre in Sheffield, our third in Yorkshire, was the city’s Lord Mayor, Councillor Vickie Priestley.
Just two months later, we received high praise from education inspectorate Ofsted, which rated us ‘good’ overall and ‘outstanding’ for public services, health and social care, and outcomes for learners.
The watchdog also found our flexible learning programmes provided “outstanding service to learners and employers”, our managers and staff were “passionate” about the impact of their work, and some learners undergo “life-changing experiences”.
And we advanced our online learning offering to reflect both a growth in demand and to support the Government’s bid to drastically increase this type of learning across the country by 2017. Playing our part, we extended from seven to 30 our portfolio of courses through our Learning@College platform.
And we further looked to the future by undergoing a company rebrand and relaunch of our already highly informative website.
Although we are proud to have helped many thousands of people of all ages attain new qualifications and improved career prospects this year, the personal achievement of our founder and chair, Judith Moran, was a distinguished high point.
In November, Judith was named Durham and Wearside Business Executive of the Year in The Journal and Gazette Business Executive of the Year 2014 awards and winner of the Susan Dobson Award for Entrepreneurship at the 15th annual Women Into the Network Awards, given for outstanding success in creating or growing a new or existing enterprise.
It made celebrating our success all the easier, and we did this last month with a dinner for around 100 of our clients and partners in Birmingham, during the Association of College’s Annual Conference and Exhibition - a fitting way to end a stunning year.
Brenda McLeish is group managing director of Learning Curve. Find out more at www.learningcurvegroup.co.uk