What is Access?
- The UK’s largest independent, government-funded, further education provider.
- A specialist creative college dedicated to preparing young people for the creative industries.
- A national college operating across nine locations in England.
- At the forefront of creative education and celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2017.
- Graded ‘Outstanding’ by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI).
- Training thousands of young creative people to go on to do some amazing things, from Ed Sheeran to promoters running stages at Glastonbury.
- Managed centrally from a head office in Manchester. Each location has its own management and support staff, in addition to professional tutors.
- ‘It’s not like doing a course in a normal college – it’s in a real creative environment.’
How do your courses work?
- Doing something you love is a great motivator, and our students are passionate about their experience with us. It suits many creative people, who perhaps found school too focused on academic subjects.
- Our courses have no formal entry requirements. Instead, we focus on creative skills and potential. However, applicants will have to show that they are able to work at their intended level. For 16-18 year olds we also ask for a school reference and evidence of predicted or actual grades.
- Most assessment is based around practical activities. It’s proof that learning can be fun as well as vocational! However, from 2017 all qualifications will have an element of external assessment and these units must be passed to successfully complete the course.
- Most of our qualifications are accredited through RSL and are government and industry approved. Others are assessed by BTEC Diplomas which are also very vocational. All qualifications have parity with GCSEs and A Levels, but are more suited to the skill sets of young creatives.
- Our College Courses are offered over four levels, from Level 1 (GCSE grades 1-3), through Level 2 (GCSE grades 4-9) to Level 3 (A Level) and Level 4 (first year of a degree).
- Our two-year Level 3 courses generate the same UCAS points as three A Levels, so that students can progress to university.
Tell me about your tutors
- Access employs professional tutors, the majority of whom have direct experience of the creative industries.
- Because our tutors are creative people, they are able to empathise with the students and their aspirations.
- Ofsted commented in 2016, ‘Tutors plan learning comprehensively and staff understand individual learners’ needs well. They provide engaging and stimulating learning activities which learners enjoy taking part in.’
- In 2014, the ISI said, ‘Teachers have excellent subject knowledge and are highly effective at building students’ enthusiasm and confidence for learning. They are generous with their time in and out of the classroom and have extremely good relationships with their students, who feel they care for them as individuals.’
How do you support learners?
- Each centre has a team of Learning Support Tutors who help students achieve. We monitor a student’s learning requirements and we work hard to make sure they are comfortable with their learning plan.
- We work with your child to support the development of their maths and English. If your child has achieved a D grade, or grade 3 or 4 on the new GCSE specifications, then we help them to improve their grade. If your child has achieved lower than a D grade (or grade 3 or 4), then we conduct an initial assessment of their maths and English abilities. We use this information to decide whether Functional Skills or GCSEs are the best option. Either way we will provide support to develop their maths and English skills.
- We provide an online learning portal where students can access information about their courses and assignments. Students can submit work and see tutor feedback and marking.
- All students work to an Individual Learning Plan, which sets targets for attainment throughout the course. Students also benefit from a supportive individual and group tutorial programme.
- We offer means-tested financial support which can cover costs such as travel, meals and essential equipment.
Is it a friendly place to study?
- Access pledges to offer your child a safe and welcoming place to learn and develop.
- Our centres are friendly places with a close family feel. Students are able to develop relationships with like-minded people in an atmosphere of trust and creativity.
- The ISI praised us, saying, ‘Pastoral support for students is excellent. Student welfare is a key priority and the college has invested heavily in ensuring that it meets its aim of providing a safe and supportive environment where students can progress quickly.’
- Ofsted added that students ‘feel safe and benefit from attending lessons with learners from diverse backgrounds and of different ages, demonstrating very good levels of respect for others and a thorough understanding of inclusion’.
- All students are issued with industry-standard ACS hearing protectors.
What about career skills?
- We aim to equip your child with a wide range of skills for their creative career. As well as subject skills, they will develop communication and teamwork, proficiency in digital technologies, business enterprise, careers awareness and the broader aspects of citizenship.
- Access has partnerships with many creative businesses and organisations. They work with us to offer unique career opportunities, ranging from online creative collaborations to the chance to work or perform at a major UK festival, like Latitude.
- We have an online Your Future Gateway agency where students can apply for industry opportunities from performances and tech work through to video and photo commissions.
- ‘Learners develop a wide range of employability skills through their work experience and grasp the necessary attributes required for future employment.’ Ofsted, 2016
- Finally, we pave the way so that Level 3 students can go on to study creative degrees at university.
Are your students successful?
- Access empowers successful students in a friendly, creative environment which is geared to their needs. Many students who come to Access say that they feel at home for the first time in their education.
- In June 2016, Ofsted commented ‘Access prepares learners particularly well for the next step in their careers. Last year, the majority of learners continued to higher or further education and, additionally, a substantial number of them obtained employment’.
- Our success rates for English and maths are significantly above the national average for further education.
- The Independent Schools Inspectorate commented that ‘Analysis of success rates over the past three years indicates that attainment is very high and improving.’
- Access strives to ensure its students are successful at whatever they want to do in life. Some of our students go on to work behind the scenes in the creative industries. Others find employment in different sectors. A few become high-profile artists. Here are some of them:
- Ed Sheeran: the outstanding singer/songwriter of his generation.
- Rita Ora: globally successful vocal artist and media sensation.
- Stephanie May: head of Virgin Radio.
What about day to day practicalities?
- Students are usually in college between three and four days per week, depending on what additional support they require for English and maths.
- Courses generally run from the first week in September to the last week in June. We operate three terms with standard half-term breaks.
- The first six weeks of each course is an induction period designed to make sure your child is happy and on the right course.
- We expect 100% attendance and punctuality in all sessions, unless there are extenuating circumstances. All sessions are registered using an electronic register.
- All students must wear their Access pass in the centre.
- Musicians are encouraged to bring their instrument into college and this should be insured. However, we do have drum kits, keyboards and PA systems.
- Delivery of some courses may involve evening/weekend performances.
How can I find out more?
- If you have not already done so, we strongly recommend that you come to one of our open events. You can find out more on the back page, and we recommend that you book a session.
- You can chat online on our website, and you can also call us free on 0800 28 18 42 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- It is easy to apply for our courses online on this website.
- We interview all of our applicants to help them find the right course. There is more information on this in Study With Us, and we will write to you beforehand to allow your child to prepare. You will normally be given the option of an early evening, or daytime interview.
- If your child wants to get a real flavour of what it’s like to study at Access, then they can book onto one of our Taster Days which usually take place during the daytime in school holiday periods.
- We hope to see you soon!