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Student Support Team

Hartlepool College of Further Education’s Student Services team have received national recognition by being voted the UK’s number one department for Student Support. The accolade was awarded by the National Association of Managers for Student Services (NAMSS) at the Hilton Hotel in Liverpool on March 13th. Collecting the award were Service Team Leader Mark Lee and Admissions Officer Christian Williams.
 
Beating a field of potentially hundreds of similar teams, Mark put the success down to a mix of the positive outcomes for learners, and an innovative approach to working with internal staff and external partners. Mark said “Our portfolio of services is broad, encompassing Welfare, IAG (Information, Advice or Guidance), SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability), Finance and Student Enrichment. Making sure all of these are the best they can be is challenging, but we have approachable, specialised staff who work tirelessly for the students and have developed new and closer working relationships with local schools and support services to deliver outstanding, innovative support processes.”
 
“The world of education can be a very complex and challenging place right now,” Mark continued, “so being able to offer learners access to the right support at the right time is crucial. Never standing still, the Student Support team have also recently been trained by the NHS in Smoking Cessation support and created employment experiences for 100% of entry level learners by working with Hartlepool Voluntary Development Agency. IAG staff have continued to increase UCAS Higher Education applications year on year and have driven up success rates, with nearly 90% of learners now getting an offer from their Higher Education applications.”
 
However it’s not all about work, as Mark explains. “The College is a real community with a vibrant atmosphere and sense of fun. We’ve worked with students to raise over £1,500 for good causes and won an award for Best Youth Project in the North East for GameCon, a videogame convention/marathon raising money for a local charity.” Additionally, Mark played himself in “The Course Awakens”, a short parody of Star Wars made by the College’s Creative Director Gary Kester, in which a Stormtrooper comes to Hartlepool College for careers advice. “It was huge fun to do.” said Mark, “Nearly every line was one from the films, and there are tons of in-jokes. The students completely bought into it, and really delivered on the day of shooting. The film can be seen on the Hartlepool College YouTube channel.”
 
An innovative, inspiring team who work tirelessly and thoughtfully, Student Services eased through their Matrix IAG assessment in December 2016 with no further recommendations, echoing their outstanding, innovative practice.
 
“Student Services is one of the most important aspects of the College,” says Darren Hankey, Principal of HCFE, “and it goes back decades. The original team, of which I’m delighted to say some are still working here, were real ground breakers. Many of the things they introduced are now commonplace at colleges and universities all over the UK. This huge achievement proves to me that the same mix of dedication to our learners and being able to be flexible and innovative as the world changes are alive and well at Hartlepool College. You often hear people say casually things like ‘our team is the best’ – well, we actually have official proof that ours is!”
 
Student Services is open during working hours every weekday and can be visited for advice without appointment or call on 01429 295000.

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