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Luminate Education Group secures £51 million to transform its buildings

We have received £51m funding from the government to replace and upgrade some of our buildings.

The investment will ensure that we can create great spaces for our students so that they have access to modern, fit-for-purpose facilities.

Work will begin at Mabgate later this year and part of the expansion will include the development of new higher level technical and apprenticeship courses. There will also be a purpose built Adult education building, which will replace Leeds City College’s Enfield Centre.

As demand for student places continues to grow, the expansion programme for Mabgate will create much-needed community facilities and will add to the group’s portfolio of city centre bases. 

The campus will also create space for University Centre Leeds and Leeds Conservatoire – bringing together the group’s further and higher education provisions.

There are also significant refurbishment plans for Park Lane Campus. Major works will also be carried out at Harrogate College and plans include the demolition of the old A block building, which will be replaced with a net zero, purpose-built building.

Leeds West MP Alex Sobel visits Leeds City College’s Quarry Hill campus

Leeds North West MP Alex Sobel has visited Leeds City College’s Quarry Hill campus as part of a wider campaign to promote digital arts.

The All Party Parliamentary Group for Video Games and Esports Chair, visited the Creative Arts School, which is home to 1200 students and has an ESports lab, dance and music studios, TV and media studio and the 200-seat Chroma Q theatre.

He was welcomed by Bill Jones, Deputy CEO of Luminate Education Group, Quarry Hill Campus Principal Suzy Gallagher, Rob Reed, Programme Manager for Digital Arts and Maya Jermy, Curriculum Leader for Animation and Esports.

Rob, Bill and Suzy outlined their vision for the department and future plans for expansion. They also told the Labour MP that a lack of government funding within the sector was having a direct impact on recruiting staff with subject-specific skills.

Rob said: “We are happy to have hosted Alex Sobel and to have shared our vision for the department. We run a number of courses that include computer games, animation and esports and our curriculum is responsive to the needs of the games and animation industries.

“Alex is an advocate of education, particularly the digital arts, and getting the opportunity to discuss the most pressing issues and challenges we are facing as a department and sector was encouraging.”

Other key topics covered during the tour included the importance of making connections with industry bodies and SMEs across the region, to encourage more work experience for students. There was also an in-depth discussion about the under-representation of female students in the games industry.

Rob added: “It is not only important for us to encourage girls, who in some cases, feel unseen in an industry perceived as ‘male’. It is also our duty to educate boys and help them understand how they can help combat the negative stereotypes.”

After the tour Alex spent time with the second year level 3 games development students, who were exhibiting their final work at Mabgate studios, as part of the Creative Arts Fragments exhibition.

He spoke to several learners about their experience of the course and had a tour of their 3D virtual gallery space, using a VR kit.

Alex said: “What an inspiring group of young people, with so much talent. It was great to see their work and talk about opportunities within the video games Industry.”

Luminate Education Group ‘unlocks potential’ at second teaching and learning conference

We held our second  teaching and learning conference on Monday 4 July focused on learning and development for teaching staff and co-professionals across Luminate Education Group.

This year’s conference theme ‘Unlocking Potential’, was an opportunity for colleagues from across all member organisations to come together with a common purpose around their collective passion for high-quality teaching, learning and assessment. 

More than 1019 delegates from Leeds City College, Keighley College, Harrogate College, Leeds Sixth Form College, University Centre Leeds and Leeds Conservatoire attended the conference that addressed topics such as climate change, work-based learning, leadership and management development,  supporting learning and excellence in teaching, learning, assessment.

Conference organiser, Jennifer Miccoli, said: “It was wonderful to see colleagues coming together from across the group to network and share best practice.

“Our fundamental role as an education group is to ensure our learners are accessing excellent education from driven, well-trained teachers and co-professionals who are consistently transforming lives. We have so many members of staff across the group delivering ground-breaking projects that are making a real difference to students’ lives.

“An event such as this was a chance to not only come together as a group, but to reflect on what we have achieved.

The conference was  opened by keynote presentations from: 

  • Jaz Ampaw Farr –Human First  leadership strategist 
  • Jo Smedley – SMED talks 
  • Alison Smith – artist and educator
  • Professor Alison James – national teaching fellow
  • Charlotte Bonner – sustainability expert

‘The power of everyday heroes’

Jaz Ampaw Farr

Well respected motivational speaker and life coach, Jaz’s keynote spoke about what it means to be a ‘human first’. She also gave insight on how educators can learn how to unleash their true potential, be more resilient and drive change.

What it takes to Unlock Potential

Jo Smedley, meanwhile, spoke about the importance of overcoming barriers and the three keys to unlocking potential.

She said: “There are three keys to unlocking potential; awareness, willingness to change and adapt, and the growth zone.

“We are now living in a world where we have to cope with an ever-changing landscape. 

“Often we lock ourselves away and get on with ‘comfort and safety’. But, there is power in being vulnerable and we have to be more open now so that we can embrace a ‘growth mindset’.” 

‘COP 26 Climate Canopy’ Experience the science

Alison Smith – artist and educator

With sustainability practice high on the agenda across Luminate Education Group, Alison Smith’s session gave insight on how to become a climate advocate, and how to have positive conversations with students and colleagues, who work in a wide range of settings, including science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects. 

She said: “If you’re an artist, incorporating STEM subjects is really crucial – art is a brilliant way of expressing those ideas and telling those stories.”

There was also an opportunity to explore the five metre long, interactive artwork.

Dispeling what we think we know about autism

Dean Beadle

Other highlights included motivational speaker Dean Beadle, who shared his experiences of living with autism and the myths and misconceptions associated with it.

Breaking down barriers and tackling key issues

While the conference hosted a wide range of external speakers, a number of speakers across the group engaged with delegates, with Advanced Practitioner, Laura Kayes, sharing her current research on poverty informed practice and Sixth Form Teaching & Learning Programme Manager, Olivia Bowers’ session on helping students to retain, reuse and recall. 

Overall, the conference gave colleagues the opportunity to access workshops and sessions that helped develop creative thought, in line with the group’s strategic priorities and in fulfilling the vision of the TLA Strategy 2021-23 ‘The Power of Potential.’ 

It also highlighted the key role that educators across the group are undertaking in the community, and in the region.


Resources from all five sessions are now available here

How did we do?

We would love to hear your feedback about the conference – what we did well and what you would like to see at next year’s Teaching & Learning Conference.  Fill out the evaluation form here.

Luminate Education Group colleges awarded ‘Good’ by Ofsted

Colleges within Luminate Education Group are celebrating after achieving a grade ‘Good’ with ‘Outstanding’ features by Ofsted, following an inspection last month.

Harrogate, Keighley, Leeds Sixth Form and Leeds City colleges were recognised for their passionate and expert staff, and their work with regional stakeholders to implement education programmes that best fit local employment opportunities.

The group was also praised for successfully providing education and training that meets the aspirations of learners and apprentices and widens participation in education and training.

The colleges’ provision for both adults and student personal development were awarded ‘Outstanding’.

The group is among the first large educational establishments to have been inspected under Ofsted’s new framework, which puts a greater focus on work with stakeholders, student and apprentices’ safety and special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Bill Jones

Bill Jones, Deputy CEO at Luminate Education Group, said: “This is a fantastic achievement for the FE colleges that make up our *group, which has grown exponentially since our last inspection in 2018. Our campus portfolio has grown by 35%, with the additions of Harrogate College and Leeds City College’s Mabgate campus. This increase reflects the number of our students, which has doubled in some areas in the last four years.

“Our skillful and influential leaders are committed to collaborating and working with key stakeholders and partners to not only provide invaluable opportunities for our students, but also meet the economic needs of the region.

“Our governors also play a key role in the quality of education provided to our students across the FE colleges. They are actively involved in determining the group’s strategic direction, making many of the key decisions in relation to each college and ensuring continuous and sustainable improvement.”

Andrea Cowans, Director of Student Life at Luminate, added: “This grade is testament to the hard work of our staff who make our college environments welcoming and safe places for our students every single day.

“Our learners’ wellbeing, personal development and safety are our top priorities which are embedded in our cultures, cementing our Outstanding grade in this area. This is pertinent as we recover from the impact of Covid-19, and its effects on our adult learners in particular, so it’s an incredible feat to be strongly recognised in this area too.”

For more information about Luminate Education Group, visit Luminate Education Group

University Centre Leeds students

Best in Leeds scores for Luminate Education Group’s higher education providers

University Centre Leeds and Leeds Conservatoire are celebrating achieving the highest student satisfaction scores, in their respective categories, of all the higher education providers in the city.

In the newly published 2022 National Student Survey (NSS) Leeds Conservatoire achieved an overall satisfaction rating of 80%, significantly higher than the sector average of 70.79%. The 85% satisfaction rating achieved by the University Centre (UC Leeds), meanwhile, made it the highest performing institution of its kind in Leeds – and one of the highest in Yorkshire. 

Both institutions scored highly, and above the sector average, in many of the individual categories in the survey, too. In the conservatoire’s case, particular highlights were in teaching (82%), academic support (78%), learning opportunities (80%), assessment and feedback (78%), and learning community (77%).

Students also rated UC Leeds, which was registered under Luminate Education Group for the survey, very highly in specific areas. Those included: teaching (90.4%), learning opportunities (88.6%), academic support (87%), learning community (83.7%), assessment and feedback (83.5%), student voice (81.1%), and organisation and management (80.5%).

A testament to the dedication of our staff

The results delighted Janet Faulkner, Dean of Higher Education at UC Leeds, and Leeds Conservatoire Principal, Professor Joe Wilson.

Janet said: “These tremendous results are a testament to the continuing, and improving quality of our teaching and curriculum.

“Our staff are continuously looking at ways to enhance our courses and give students exceptional opportunities, so they leave here with the confidence and skills to aim high.

“Over the past year, we have welcomed a string of influential guest speakers and taken a group of learners to London for some invaluable experience at the Department for Transport. Other students have benefitted from an Erasmus+ trip to Greece, where their work in a hotel gave them an insight into the tourism, hospitality and food and drink sectors.

“Our students, as these impressive survey results indicate, clearly appreciate such efforts which is wonderful to see.”

Joe said: “We are very proud of the excellent NSS results for Leeds Conservatoire. This is testament to the hard work and dedication of our staff, and we would like to thank our students for recognising the conservatoire with this fantastic feedback.

“Our programmes are characterised by inspirational training with experts in a huge variety of specialisms, supported by bespoke workshops and masterclasses by visiting practitioners. Our facilities are industry-standard, our curriculum is designed around industry practice, and students have access to a wealth of professional partners and expert knowledge both within and outside our curriculum. 

“We value excellence and elite training in all forms of music and performance making, and so offer the broadest range of genres of any conservatoire in Europe, giving our students unrivalled opportunities for collaboration. We are the only UK conservatoire to offer degrees combining two performance/production disciplines, reflecting the increasing focus on multidisciplinary practice in the music industry and offering even greater opportunity for students to expand their creative vision.”  

Managed by the Office for Students, the NSS is one of the largest surveys of its kind and had almost 325,000 responses across the UK this year.

The survey gathers students’ opinions on the quality of their courses. That data is then used by prospective students to guide their choices, and by the education providers to shape and improve their offerings.

Inspectors praise group’s outstanding commitment to personal development 

That is how Luminate Education Group’s Director of Student Life, Andrea Cowans, described the group’s retention of its ‘Good’ Ofsted rating following a recent inspection.

Ofsted inspectors visited all of the group’s FE campuses to evaluate the quality of provision between April 26 and 29.

The inspection team concluded that our provision was ‘Good’ with some ‘Outstanding’ features – including in Personal Development and Adult provision.

Andrea, who leads on personal development, behaviour and attitudes across Luminate’s FE colleges, said: “For our colleges to achieve an overall ‘Good’ grade from Ofsted in a period when our students  have been recovering from the pandemic is a fantastic result.

“We have talented and focused staff teams who regularly demonstrate outstanding practice, exceptional insight and a heartfelt commitment to our students and colleagues.

“The work of staff was highlighted on a daily basis by inspectors, one of whom described the leadership of culture and emotional well-being as ‘exemplary practice’.”

Recognition of the pride we take in our work

Inspectors noted ‘widespread and exceptional personal development’, ‘wellbeing and mental health support that went beyond the expected’, and ‘well planned work experience and close relationships with industry’.

Andrea added: “The colleges’ vision and commitment to social justice and mobility were also highlighted, and barriers to learning were described as ‘well met with support’ in areas including vulnerability. 

“There was much more – some of it implicit in the description of aspirational environments, our focus on health, effective safeguarding, and that our staff describe themselves as ‘proud to work for the college’.

“That pride in our work, our students, and our purpose in communities in Leeds, Harrogate and Keighley shines through and we are delighted this was recognised by inspectors.”

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