No need for new college

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EDITOR - I am writing further to the article in last week’s paper regarding the need for a further education college in Skegness.

Like Coun Anderson, in more favourable economic circumstances, I dream of an engineering based college in Skegness, supporting the renewable energy industry.

Unfortunately, Coun Anderson and Coun Kemp seem to be making uninformed comments which are not helpful.

They both know that the previous learning and skills council concluded that further further education provisions in Skegness were neither required nor sustainable.

How do we currently measure if such a provision is necessary?

One measure is the number of 16-year-olds not in education, employment or training (NEET), which in Skegness in July was 2.9 per cent compared to 4.8 per cent across Lincolnshire, 5.5 per cent across the East Midlands, and 6.4 per cent for England.

Despite people’s perceptions, our young people are achieving and moving onwards.

What is the future number of children moving into this age group?

The number of year 10 and year 11 pupils in Skegness in spring 2011 was 663. Of those, 397 are expected to have gone into school sixth forms, either at the Skegness Academy, Skegness Grammar School or other local schools; and 245 are expected to attend Skegness Vocational College, which leaves 21, some of whom will join apprenticeship programmes, join the army, or move into employment.

This shows there is just not the need for a new college in Skegness at this point in time.

What is the current post-16 year provision?

Both of our Skegness secondary schools provide excellent sixth form provision, and Skegness College of Vocational Training provides an excellent service and is currently funded for 245 learners.

Some of these learners are often those children that have not enjoyed an academic education, are below a level two qualification, and are well suited to ‘vocational training’.

The Grimsby Institute has a further education centre in Skegness, which offers a range of courses.

In 2010/11, 807 young people from Lincolnshire attended the Grimsby Institute facilities and this figure includes those attending the Regional College in Skegness, not only from Skegness but our wider geographical area.

Clearly the priority of Lincolnshire County Council is to identify learning needs and work with and support the small independent providers in promoting viable suitable courses rather than to bring in a ‘new college’ which would make the existing provision unviable and lead to less vocational courses for those learners who are starting from a lower educational level.

Coun John Hough, a Labour county and ELDC councillor, chaired a recent review of ‘improving access to post-16 learning provision in Lincolnshire’.

It made 15 recommendations, none of which suggested the need for a new facility in Skegness.

LCC has a statutory duty to monitor further education needs in Lincolnshire, including Skegness, and to ensure collaborative provision, and does this very well.

It would seem to me that both Coun Anderson and Coun Kemp are trying to make this issue political, when in reality the most important issue is that our children are getting the best possible opportunities to develop and move into employment opportunities, which on the evidence they actually are.

COUN MARK SMITH

Southview Close

Skegness