South Devon College

Case Study

SIDIS has been working with South Devon College to assist the delivery of T Levels in a smooth and modern way. Watch the video below or have a read through the write-up!

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South Devon College

Case Study Write Up

South Devon College Interview

This week we chatted with Kerry Pilato, Senior Industry Placement Coordinator, from South Devon College, about her journey in delivering the T Levels.

In the first of our interviews with colleges, Kerry shares everything from her initial challenges and fears to the software due diligence she went through, and where she is today with the programme.

What was your initial challenge with the T Levels?

Kerry, who initially started with South Devon College to look at Industry Placements and how they would be rolled out with the new T Level qualifications, shared:

“In delivering the industry placements, which I think for most colleges is going to be one of the most challenging parts of delivering the new qualification. Without industry placements there is no qualification, so there is huge importance on finding employees that will host students. To make this successful and to maintain good relationships with industry leaders, it was essential to find a good system to manage everything and roll this out as smoothly and as efficiently as possible. Getting everyone onboard and working as a team is a vital part of the process, as is explaining the benefits of the T Levels and ensuring everyone knows their part.”

What were the initial fears and concerns?

Kerry responded “As with any change, there have been lots of small challenges to overcome along the way, there is so much to consider and it’s a new way of doing things.  Moving over to this hybrid qualification, which will sit somewhere between apprenticeships and A Levels, has challenged my own skills in ensuring that the student journey is a high-quality journey. Key to this is making sure the Industry Placement takes prime place and within the right context and so we must get the process right.”

What software were you initially using to deliver the T Level qualifications?

Kerry shared “For the pilot, we looked at our in-house system Moodle but functionality was limited and wasn’t able to include the Industry Placement employer. So, then we looked at other programmes which could produce the systems we needed, like Navigate and Grofar.  Navigate went some way to fulfilling the criteria as it provided a platform for the student portfolio to be stored and evidenced but it didn’t offer any form of triage/3-way communication with the employer, or handle the qualification in a wider context. Kerry added “Using those other platforms would mean using additional systems, which nobody wants, as we have enough to think about!”

Can you share your initial involvement with SIDIS Academy and your expectations?

Kerry honestly relayed “There were no initial expectations! One of our Industry Placement employers is Maven, which offers opportunities for multiple students.  When Covid hit it became clear that we needed a robust platform to handle the Industry Placement with Maven, particularly with the restrictions that came with the pandemic. We needed one learning platform that would support the college, the employer and the students.”

Kerry went onto share “From there, I then met with the SIDIS team and ended up working closely with them and SIDIS Academy was developed as a result of this demand and initially was simply formed as a virtual work experience platform. During development I realised there was so much more the programme could offer, and there was the potential that it could, and now does, manage the entirety of delivering the T Level qualification.”

What impact will SIDIS Academy have on the employers and students involved with the T Level?

Kerry explained “As a provider, it brings everything together for that qualification. It puts everything into context and provides a massive content library of resources. As more colleges come onboard, they can upload their own resources at which point it becomes accessible to everyone, creating a network of quality resources to help deliver the qualification. The impact on the employer will mean they have the means to monitor their students whilst on placement and be able to review the body of work they produce. Everyone can see that the students’ needs are being met and that it is a quality Industry Placement and that equally the employer is getting a good level of productivity.”

How has the SIDIS team helped customise your platform?

Kerry shared “They have been very responsive and listened carefully to our needs.  I went around various colleges to get their concerns and challenges regarding the delivery of the T Levels, which I relayed to SIDIS who then came up with ideas which would overcome these.  There are so many functions on the platform, but they are all so simple and intuitive to use from every angle that it’s a great all in one system.  What’s more, the SIDIS team continues to listen, and I am confident they will overcome any challenges we have as they arise because, so far, there’s been nothing they haven’t been able to do!”

What would you say to other colleges looking for a solution?

Kerry finished up by sharing “I think it’s a fantastic opportunity right now to get on board with this digital solution. South Devon College is totally invested in SIDIS Academy, and we fully believe that it will knock any competition out of the park.  It’s a high-quality qualification and we need a high-quality system to deliver it which has to hit the mark – and SIDIS Academy does.

The network it can facilitate for colleges is second to none. Once colleges and employers are onboard, it will be a force to be reckoned with!”

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