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Northamptonshire Schools & Business Alliance

Aerial view of Wellingborough Campus.

A gathering of educational professionals was staged at the shiny new Wellingborough campus of Tresham College organised by the Northamptonshire Schools & Business Alliance.

Principal of Tresham College Robin Webber-Jones spoke up for the often overlooked value of FE Colleges who educate 1.6 million each year.

These include: Adults, 16-18 year olds (inc re-sitting maths & English) and Apprentices

“While there are great improvements happening in education across Northamptonshire, attainment is still below regional and national averages in reading standards among the young, which impacts on their educational and life chances,”

said Robin.

He emphasised the need to work in partnership with employers and education establishments across the region to support progression and discussed the range of options available. There are now academic alternatives to A Levels via other technical qualifications and with T Levels taking over from BTEC qualifications gradually.

To make this range of education relevant to employers “Co-construction” is a system under which courses are put together with input from industry experts e.g. motor sports, hospitality, public services and hair & beauty.

Tresham College had been involved in recent Locals Skills Improvement Plans (LSIP) – where all regional educational work will be framed around these. The plans evidence how colleges engage with businesses and how students develop work-useful skills.

“So LSIP activity by Tresham College is to add extra dimensions to classroom/course work. But we need added experiences and more input from employers,” 

“Also, staff need to engage to keep themselves up to date with current employment environments.”

added Robin

Kathryn Lusk Head of Business Development for The Bedford College Group, of which Tresham College is a part, explained:

“Apprenticeships are work-based learning programmes, tailored to specific job roles and industries which range from Level 2 to degree level. The minimum duration of any apprenticeship is one year and some apprenticeships can be over 4 years with an average of 6 hours per week ‘off-the-job’ required, which in some instances, is covered by the college release element of the apprenticeship. The rest of the time the apprentice is in the workplace.

“Apprentices can be all ages – there is no upper age limit, we had a 46-year-old apprentice, for instance.

“We do recognise that an employer’s commitment is key to an apprentice and we will guide employers with regards to available funding and incentives – which varies according to age of apprentice.

“Levy-paying employers can share up to 25% of unused funds with others in their supply chain, or supporting other employers.

“T Levels are coming on strongly – 20% of the course is out of the classroom in a meaningful industry specific work placement – so an employer who has an apprentice at college one day a week can fill the void with a T Level student looking for a relevant work placement – given them valuable insights into the industry related to their T Level”

The finale of the event was an inspirational talk by Leigh Wolmarans, CEO of Silhouette of Weston Favell, Northamptonshire

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