This year, Babington celebrates its 40th birthday. We take a look at how much its changed over four decades of delivering vocational training.
Babington Business College was first established in 1974 as a secretarial college for shorthand and typing. The college was then on Babington Lane in Derby, lending it its name, and it was owned by Margaret and Peter Parkes.
Their son, Simon, took over the business when Margaret passed away in 1991. By this time, Babington had moved into apprenticeships, and was the first private insurance apprenticeship provider in the UK.
Babington soon broke another record, being the first to offer accountancy apprenticeships in the UK, something it is now well known and loved for.
After its success with insurance and accountancy courses, Babington branched out into customer service, team leadership and management, and business and administration courses.
By 2002, Babington had six centres, and was helping aspiring young business men and women across the Midlands and North to take their first steps towards an exciting career.
In 2003, Babington became the first private training provider to achieve COVE ( Centre of Vocational Excellence) status for its delivery of Accountancy qualifications.
From classroom to workplace
In its early days, all courses at Babington were completely classroom-based. Customer service, team leadership and management courses were the first to incorporate work-based learning into the mix, giving learners real practical experience. Business administration soon caught up, and all business admin courses are now solely based in the workplace.
Until recently, Babington’s courses were based around the academic year, with September class starts. Accounting courses had to work around June and December exam time, meaning it was difficult to be flexible.
The introduction of computer based, on-demand exams transformed the way Babington ran its courses and, after the company changed ownership in 2009, rolling programmes were introduced. This meant that learners could start and finish courses at times that suited them, making learning with Babington a more personalised experience.
Today, Babington’s learners can even study some courses from home, with the help of the virtual learning environment, BabingtonOnline.
Leading the way
As Babington pushed forward, meeting more of its goals, the company strived towards increasing excellence in training.
Babington has taken part in the WorldSkillsUk Accountancy competition every year since 2010, and has seen outstanding success at the event. The first year saw Babington achieve bronze, and a Babington learner take Gold in the individual competition. Last year, at the final Accounting Technician World Skills competition, the Babington team walked away with Gold.
As Babington perfected its areas of expertise, it ventured into new areas. This included a move into delivering qualifications to support the unemployed, which is now growing rapidly.
Babington began working with larger and more influential organisations, delivering a wider range of courses. In 2012, the acquisition of Training for Today was a milestone, and helped Babington to offer an even broader choice of training, as well as gain a larger presence in the northwest.
Achieving awards and accreditation for excellence has now become a part of the Babington way. So far this year, Babington has achieved Best Companies Accreditation, as well as Ofsted Grade 2 ‘Good’.
With staff numbers and course offerings growing all the time, Babington’s next big birthday is set to be even more exciting.