What Adding Value Is Really All About- Anna Cautley

I’ve been having discussions with staff across Activate Learning about what value added means to them. This post comes from Anna Cautley who teaches on Health & Social Care courses at Banbury & Bicester College.



A value added score is what results from students coming into college with minimum target grades at one level and them leaving a course with grades at another level. This is positive value added if those grades are higher than initially expected (based on their previous level of attainment).

I spoke to Anna Cautley, one lecturer who taught on a programme with a positive value added score last year at Banbury and Bicester College, to see what she felt adding value was really about.

She and her colleagues for the course know their students inside out and upside down- they know about their private lives, home lives and this is absolutely paramount. It means that they can often predict what might throw their students off course and they can work to prevent that from happening. If they haven’t predicted it then a drop in attendance or focus in class can be the first indicator of this.

Dealing with attendance:

  • Remember that sometimes, there are genuine reasons students don’t come into class.
  • Trust the students implicitly until they give you reason not to
  • Expect the students to communicate with you about missed classes
  • If the students don’t share what’s going on- then they get a hard time
  • Google Classroom is used properly- for the sharing of work and key messages so if a student is absent, there’s no excuse- they can still submit assignments and access everything
  • The staff do answer emails in their own time- ensuring the student can stay on the course
  • Remember that what might work for one student might not work for another so tailor your support based on what you know about them and their circumstances

Dealing with prolonged absence:

  • If they can’t submit on time or they’ve got behind then that’s ok.
  • If they’ve got themselves into that state then we need to work to get them out of it.
  • A personalised action plan is created- a calendar for the next 4-5 weeks and the staff add deadlines for everything
  • Ensure that the student is just working on one thing at a time.
  • If they’re doing bits of work for people all over the place then they’ll soon get too stressed and be unable to catch-up. One thing at a time makes it a manageable return to the course.

Focussing on the future:

  • By the end of the first year, the students have done 10 units, leaving 7 for the 2nd year
  • The focus of the 2nd year is personal statement and UCAS- we want the students to be looking at what grades they need for uni/employment and to reach their careers
  • Anna developed a spreadsheet to calculate their future grades and therefore what they need to do this year in order to meet their targets
  • 1-1s take place at the start of the 2nd year to calculate and work it out- this makes a difference- it puts their future into real terms and demonstrates the possibilities
  • The student is shown how to use the grade calculator (on the spreadsheet) for themselves too
  • It’s important that the member of staff is well aware of the sector the student may enter and what the local and national opportunities are

These conversations give them the motivation:

For instance, a student with young children who felt she could never manage university and accessing her future career, could see through the 1-1 and grade calculator that it could be possible. It opens up discussions about grades that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.


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