Leading behaviour specialist awards first FE partner status to Bridgend College

We are thrilled to have received When The Adults Change (WTAC) Partner status as a Further Education (FE) College, the first given to any FE institution.

The status is in recognition of the commitment to change and the cultural journey Bridgend College has undertaken over the past decade, particularly in regards to Relational Practice and its approach to positive behaviour management.

Relational Practice is a framework which places relationships with others, trust and a sense of belonging at the heart of an endeavour. Whilst it has many applications, it has proven particularly effective in education, providing young people with a secure, safe environment and positive role models. 

When The Adults Change is an organisation led by behaviour specialist Paul Dix, focusing on adult-led change in education. They provide sector-leading training and effective strategies for behavioural management in schools, with an emphasis on communication, connection and creating consistent routines – key components of Relational Practice.

Paul’s extensive experience in schools led him to becoming an educational speaker and advisor, guiding organisations on creating positive and inclusive environments which allow young people to thrive. Organisations that Paul identifies as having applied these core learnings to their internal policies and strategies have been granted WTAC Partner status.

Bridgend College is one of only 20 educational institutions and the only FE college to be recognised as such worldwide. 

Speaking together on his podcast, Paul and Viv Buckley, Deputy Principal of Bridgend College, discussed the challenges faced by the College historically and how, over the past decade, careful implementation of behavioural training has reshaped the College community. She acknowledges that it was after having attended a training session by Paul that the necessary cultural shift began.

“I was very lucky to undertake training with Paul a few years ago, and it was without doubt the most transformative learning I have done. I brought that learning back to Bridgend College and our journey began. We have never looked back.  And, whilst this work is never done, there is a solid foundation of consistency and an understanding of the responsibility we all have as adults to set the tone and create a calm culture that students can thrive in.”

Viv Buckley, Deputy Principal of Bridgend College

Over the past ten years, the College has adapted the way it works in order to achieve the genuine sense of community it enjoys today. One of the key changes has been moving away from an authoritarian approach and towards one that is student-centred, which has reframed staff perspectives and has fostered a culture of mutual respect across the College. 

Whilst ‘hotspots’ – areas identified as needing academic or behavioural improvement – were initially targeted for change, it wasn’t until a college-wide approach was adopted that positive results began to occur. 

A vital aspect of this was the College’s approach to staff training. All job adverts and staff inductions now set out the person-centred approach from day one, and dedicated professional learning days are scheduled throughout the year, reinforcing the College’s ethos and contributing to a positive work environment.

To cement WTAC strategies, it has been crucial to involve all teams across both Curriculum and Business Support. Various policies have been put in place to ensure the level of support for students is consistently maintained, including an all-staff roster to ‘meet and greet’ students at the college gates and the implementation of lunchtime duty managers, to interact with and ensure the safety of students in the refectories. 

Additionally, all College teaching practitioners were gifted a copy of Paul’s book – ‘When The Adults Change, Everything Changes: Seismic Shifts in School Behaviour’ – last Christmas, having formed the basis of the professional learning day held in December. 

These strategies, and many more, have resulted in some fantastic student behavioural outputs. Since implementing these changes, not only has the number of students receiving disciplinaries drastically reduced, but the College’s exam success rate is now comfortably above the national average at almost all levels. 

To learn more about the College and its work in Relational Practice, listen to Paul and Viv’s podcast episode.

“Bridgend College is the first FE college to be awarded Partner College Status in recognition of their extraordinary work with learners of all ages and abilities. The commitment of the staff at every level to providing the very best support is remarkable. At Bridgend the boundaries are consistent, the expectations are high and relationships form the bedrock of success. Perhaps most notably for those learners who have been historically under-served by education, Bridgend fights hard to redress the balance. We are proud to support their work in behaviour, relationships and classroom management.”

Paul Dix, Behaviour specialist, author, education reformer and Founder of When The Adults Change

Viv will be stepping into the role as interim Principal and CEO of Bridgend College from 1 September, following the departure of Simon Pirotte to the Welsh Government-sponsored Commission for Tertiary Education and Research (CTER).

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