Natalie DavisonThe student support service at Bishop Auckland College has been described as one of its ‘jewels in the crown’ in an inspection report.

Students and strategic partners praised the quality of advice and support offered in interviews with the assessor for Matrix, the national quality standard for information, advice and guidance (IAG) services.

The Student Services team provides careers advice and guidance, financial support, and pastoral and welfare services to the college’s students, as well as helping applicants prior to enrolment.

The report by assessor Paul Gregory said the college placed “considerable importance…on Student Services providing an effective, efficient and timely IAG service to meet the needs of students, employers and partners”.

It continued: “In providing the IAG service, staff members in Student Services do so in an enthusiastic, genuine and committed fashion and are doing all the right things to make the service one that students recognise and appreciate.

“The work undertaken by members of staff within Student Services involving a range of individuals with differing needs and capabilities can rightly be considered one of ‘the jewels in the crown’ of Bishop Auckland College.”

In order to meet the Matrix accreditation, the college had to meet 27 standards, including having clear leadership and direction, providing accurate, impartial and objective information to clients, and evaluating outcomes for clients.

The assessor held focus groups and one-to-one meetings with students and strategic partners to obtain feedback. Student comments included: “Student Services are very considerate and are willing to help” and: “I like the fact you have someone you can confide in and get a level of support from.”

Examples provided by students on support available to them included help with student financial loans and childcare, the use of a scribe for completing written exams and for one student with a broken hand the use of a laptop computer whilst he is unable to write.

There were also positive comments from partner representatives, including: “I like working with the college – very professional, very friendly” and: “They are an excellent partner; student focused, very accommodating and flexible.”

Natalie Davison, Principal and Chief Executive, said: “While being delighted at having our long held Matrix accreditation renewed once again, it was particularly gratifying to hear how much students and strategic partners – which include schools, employers and community organisations – valued the service.

“Giving high quality advice from the moment a potential student first contacts the college through to successful qualification is vitally important, and it is clear that staff in the Student Services team go the extra mile to provide an excellent service. The praise in this report is well deserved.”

The college will receive an annual accreditation check by Matrix until the next assessment in three years.