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Barnfield College has successfully improved the achievement of students on their Access to Higher Education Diplomas by introducing a pre-Access programme for learners who were not quite ready to start an Access to HE course.

Initial Diagnostics

Barnfield College run an initial diagnostics assessment for learners applying to study Access to Higher Education courses and found that these helped them identify a number of learners who require extra support to prepare them for the intense study at Level 3 requited to successfully achieve an Access to HE Diploma.

They found that these learners typically fall into one or more of three categories:

  • They are looking to return to study and have not studied for some time
  • They lack the English and maths skills need to be able to succeed at Level 3
  • They originate from other countries and often hold qualifications (typically nursing) but need to gain credentials that are recognised in the UK

Implementing a pre-Access Programme

Barnfield College identified our suite of Level 2 “Preparing for Further Study in…” qualifications as ideal for allowing for learners to develop vocational skills while also preparing them for the reality of returning to study.

The “Preparing for Further Study in…” qualifications have been specifically designed by Gateway Qualifications to provide structured, graded, sector-specific qualifications to support leaners who aspire to enter higher education but who do not yet meet the requirements for Access to Higher Education courses, or are not ready to work at Level 3.

Running a pre-Access course is the best way for the college to successfully manage their challenge. By taking a pre-Access course, learners have the opportunity to broaden their skills, knowledge and understanding of a particular sector, cover Level 2 learning that will prepare them for progression to Access to HE courses at Level 3, and build up the study skills that they will need to succeed in the next phase of their academic life.

Learner progression is important to Barnfield College, so by choosing both pre-Access and Access to HE qualifications from Gateway Qualifications, they are able to prepare learners to take the next step in their education as smoothly as possible.

We like the flexibility and the range of units Gateway Qualifications has to offer. For pre-Access, we are able to choose units that tie in with those that we offer on Access, so learners start to get an understanding of what they are going to do before they move on.

Kara Durn, Subject Area Lead (Access to HE), Barnfield College

Progression Outcomes

Like all good centres, Barnfield College are always thinking about progression routes for their learners. The college has found that 98% of students who complete the pre-Access course progress to Access to HE programmes, and complete the course as they are fully aware of the expectations.

One student completed pre-Access with us then progressed onto the Access to Health course the following year. Despite a range of personal issues, they completed the Access qualification with Merit Profile. They are now completing a degree in Mental Health Nursing and are achieving A-C grades for their university assessments - they regularly visit the college coach and mentor current Access students and speak about how pre-Access and Access to HE have changed their lives and enabled them to achieve goals they thought were impossible.

Kara Durn, Subject Area Lead (Access to HE), Barnfield College

Working in Partnership

At Gateway Qualifications, we like to work in partnership with our providers to improve outcomes for learners. We encourage those providers to explore flectible delivery options for their programmes and make every effort to support that delivery in the best interests of learners.

As an Access Validating Agency we work with centres, higher education intitutes (HEIs) and employers to develop programmes that meet their needs and have a growing portfolio of off-the-shelf Diplomas in a wide range of subject areas. Or, if a centre needs something different to meet local population needs, this is always an option too.

It's fantastic (working with Gateway Qualifications), we can't ask for better support. If we need anything, we know there's somebody at the end of an email or phone. We're never made to feel any question is really silly - I've been on the phone quite a lot... and everybody is really willing to help. Nothing is too much trouble - really, really happy with the support we get.