Hull College and Ufi showcase digital transformation success to Department for Education

Representatives from the Department for Education (DfE) and the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) visited Hull College, in partnership with Ufi, to explore how the college has successfully integrated digital tools into their student provision and staff training. Josh Smith, Head of Public Affairs at Ufi, reflects on the visit and the success Hull College has achieved in improving student learning. 


Hull College has experienced a transformational journey over the past two years. Their implementation of digital tools has played a significant role in their transition to an Ofsted grade of ‘Good’ with ‘outstanding’ features.

The leadership team at Hull College has supported their staff and learners by placing digital transformation at the heart of their journey. They prioritised the development of a positive culture, staff training, and a learner centred view of their provision to produce outstanding outcomes.

Teacher and students working on computers.

Travel and tourism students at Hull College using AI in their training to become cabin crew.

Ufi has played a small and proud part in that journey, funding the development of a live AI powered translation tool to aid the teaching of their English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) provision. Ufi has funded and supported other tools deployed in Hull College, including VR educational simulations by Bodyswaps, an AI driven lesson planning tool from Teachermatic, and the digital enterprise badging service iDEA. We were delighted to experience all these VocTech tools being actively used by students and teachers to enhance learning at Hull College.

Women using virtual reality headsets.

Healthcare students using Virtual Reality (VR) simulations from Bodyswaps.

Together with the College we were able to host a fascinating visit with a group of Civil Servants from the DfE and the DSIT. We were able to show how with the right leadership, teacher training and approach to learners, a college can revolutionise its delivery and student outcomes.

Hull College places learners at the heart of everything they do, with a particular focus on those learners who have not done well in school. They have significant numbers of refugees relying on the College’s ESOL provision and they also have large numbers of students resitting their English and Maths GCSE’s; learner groups that have historically proven difficult to engage in learning.

Ufi staff, Hull College staff and civil servants standing together.

Civil Servants from the DfE and the DSIT with colleagues from Hull College and Ufi.

Students using AI translate in Hull College.

Students using Hull College's AI Translate project to deliver live translation of course content to help students with low levels of English proficiency succeed in digital and construction courses.

Teachers and support staff have been provided with the space, encouragement, and incentives to experiment with different digital tools. Senior leaders are empowered to guide and demonstrate by doing. As a result, adoption has skyrocketed with the College’s staff ‘AI Academy’ engaging colleagues from across the College to see how new tech can transform their own teaching and share best practice.

As our CEO, Rebecca Garrod-Waters discussed in a presentation to DfE officials and College staff, we know practitioners face complex demands on their time and competing pressures. We also know that digital tools and learning technology can help reduce workload and improve outcomes for learners. What our visit to Hull College demonstrated is that when put into practice, with determined leadership, dedicated to placing learners at the heart of a digital transformation, you can give practitioners the tools and space they need to do their job better and get adults learning.

Rebecca Garrod-Waters presenting at Hull College

Rebecca discussing how digital tools and learning technology can help reduce workload for training providers and improve outcomes for learners.

Since implementing their digital transformation, Hull College has seen positive results. They have seen ESOL attendance jump from 65% to 91.5%, overall learner satisfaction has improved by 12% and the College is saving £50k a year in a reduction of administrative costs.

If more colleges and training providers built on the positive insights from Hull’s transformational journey, we could ensure that practitioners across the UK have the skills and confidence they need to take advantage of the opportunities that technology provides.

My personal thanks to Deb Gray, Deb Millar, Lizzie Guinness and Georgina Kaye for organising our trip. For information on any of the projects mentioned, please do not hesitate to contact Josh Smith, Head of Public Affairs at Ufi, at

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