I’m aware that I’m posting a lot about Trinity. I’m aware that it could be perceived to be sour grapes, or bitterness even that something just didn’t go the way that I would have liked to. Here’s the thing though, only ONE validating organisation holds the strings to DaDa awards. When the government took away the PCDL in 2019 they replaced it with the Advanced Learner Loan, and once again in our vocational training industry the only courses approved for the ALL is. . you guessed it, the Trinity Diploma.
So to summarise, if you choose to train in a vocational college, one that has not gone the degree route to funding, literally the only pathway to student funding is via the Trinity Diploma. So Trinity College London, a registered charity worth millions is the main gatekeeper to literally thousands of pounds worth of student funding. The ALL alone is worth £22k/Student.
Little wonder then that my little college with its unique 2 year accelerated learning programme was elated when they caught up with the modern world and agreed to validate accelerated learning courses such as ours. Suddenly we had the POTENTIAL for our students to receive funding.
Now if you’ve read my last blog you’ll know that our pre-validation assessment process went massively array after the pre-validation assessment visit had happened, indeed even after I’d been in the zoom with our main assessor talking through our recommendations. Now I should state for the record, our main assessor had worked at Trinity for 17 years, indeed he had been a team leader for them, so not an underling learning the ropes on our assessment. This was someone that was an essential cog in their validating machine. Over the past few years, I’d had several conversations with him and he really knew his stuff.
This assessor – actually he deserves more than anonymity, this assessor called John Gardyne really took time to understand our unique little course. He asked pertinent questions, and he took an interest in the staff, students and the course. When observing classes he was clearly engaged. When informally discussing his findings with us at the end of the visit he was clearly enthused. He had completely won us all over.
We were genuinely worried and upset when we kept receiving his out-of-office reply saying that he was on medical leave. In fact, I even wrote to him a few times whilst chasing the bloody report to say that I just hoped that he was OK.
So when I had to sit in a zoom with 2 people that had never visited the college, and I heard one of them in particular clearly gaslighting me – starting the zoom with “if you want my advice you shouldn’t bother going for validation” I KNEW in that instant that John’s original report was not included in the work of fiction that they presented to us even though they had stated that it was (cue the dramatic music)
Let me give examples:
The report stated that (and forgive me for not directly quoting, but you’ll get the picture in a moment) that our timetable was busy with no private study time (let’s not forget here that private study time is actually a money-saving device used by colleges), and our students must be tired and potentially prone to more injuries. Swiftly followed by their account of chatting with our students where the assessors asked them if they were tired and our students said . . . no. The recommendation? We should undertake a year’s study to find out if our students were tired. and more prone to injuries. We’ve been running for 14 years with no major injuries. We have an amazing physio within the faculty that is fiercely proactive in injury prevention. The nature of our course means that in reality, our students are less likely to be injured. . scientific fact. They had also noted in their report that our students had felt heard, so why the hell were they asking us to waste time on this study? Our students meet with all 4 of the senior faculty at the end of every term for 1:1 tutorials, they speak to staff all the time AND we undertook anonymous surveys twice a year in case students wanted to let us know something that they weren’t comfortable with telling us face to face. We hold regular debriefing discussions after every production. Name me another college that spoke and listened to its students as much.
Or how about this:
They noted that the course was different, and not everybody was suited to an accelerated learning programme (like no sh*t Sherlock), so they recommended that we spent a year looking at our audition process to check that we’re taking in the right people!! We’ve been running for 14 years, in the same report they’d correctly noted that we had the amazingly low dropout rate of just 3%, whilst they incorrectly stated that a “high percentage of students had secured agent recommendation”. I say incorrectly as literally every single one of them had secured representation. I’d say that the evidence was actually already in their report, why did we need to look at anything??
Those are just 2 examples of many. From stating that we held Q&As with our graduates (which literally has never happened other than Ambassador Afternoon which is an informal sharing). . . have you seen the amazing people that come to work with our students? No disrespect to our ambassadors but our guest list includes people like Imelda Staunton, Stephanie J Block, Mike Jibson, Alison Steadman, Hadley Fraser, David Eldridge, Mike Leigh, Jenna Russell, Rosie Craig, so a host of other inaccuracies the report that we received was not of our course.
They spoke about our original film musical J – a film that won countless film festival awards – a contemporary retelling of the Don Juan story set in a non-binary world, but claimed that it was a story about a degenerative pop star? Now I’m not kidding when I say that I haven’t a clue where they picked that storyline up from – as I was one of the writers of the film and there is NO mention of a pop star lifestyle at all.
If this wasn’t so tragic it would be bloody hilarious as this faux report instantly blocked off all access to student funding. We can prove that they lied about watching other shows online – yet their lies have cost us our last lifeline.
I am 100% confident that they didn’t have John’s report – a report that I had already been talked through.
I am 100% confident that they cobbled together the report when we eventually complained that the process had taken 4 months longer than we had originally been told.
I am 100% confident that their first response to our complaint was to gaslight us into submission
I am 100% confident that we will be vindicated. . . .but that it’s too late to save The MTA
But that should not stop us from fighting to make Trinity accountable. They’ve mistreated us, and my hunch is that they mistreated John too – and I’m happy to fight for the truth