Harrogate College column with Debra Forsythe-Conroy: Looking to the future of further education
This is the time that all those involved in post-16 provision start to prepare curriculum for the next intake of students.
The planning has been finalised and the market research, local demand and market labour intelligence has informed the offer.
For Harrogate College this will be a particularly special period as it will be the first curriculum to be offered in our new accommodation.
There continues to be a buzz on campus as we have watched the new estate start to develop and have now got past the muddy, earth moving stages and can see ‘phoenix like’, the large metal framework of the technology centre emerging from the large hole in the ground.
The roof has started to go on and we now expect to see the building really take shape quickly. The builders have been amazing and have worked respectfully and with consideration of the students and staff in minimising the noise levels.
The next stage expected is the eagerly awaited development of the extension to the main college building and we are hopeful that this too will start to emerge quickly and we will be able to see our ‘High Street’ concept coming to life. The High Street is where the salons, kitchens and restaurants will be situated. We have planned very carefully to ensure that our curriculum is refreshed and complements both the demand and the needs of employers, both locally and in the region.
Regular readers of this column will have read before about the references now to careers not courses and this is something that is a really strong theme in all the college offerings from 2016 onwards.
A particularly popular offer is those courses which relate to finance, namely AAT. This year we will be introducing a level 2 AAT course which complements the current suite of accredited courses leading to higher level accountancy training.
Due to local interest we are also introducing a new IT offer with a specialist gaming technology pathway complementing the opening of Sky and Google in Leeds. Many training providers enjoy key partnerships which benefit and support their offer.
We are no different and are very proud of our partnership with Harrogate Town Football Club. This relationship began last year and has been incredibly successful, so much so that in September we see the introduction of a Ladies Football Academy. This will be a unique and exciting development which will allow students not just those on sports courses but also those on other training programmes take part in trials for both the men’s and womens teams.
Already we have had much interest and look forward to developing this into a centre of excellence for football and who better to partner with, given Harrogate Town’s current fantastic achievements and winning format.
The close links to employers is a fundamental feature for all post-16 provision which must now also have meaningful work experience attached to all training. For college students there have been some interesting and exciting opportunities developing. For example a number of our uniformed public services students have been shortlisted as North Yorkshire Special Constables and our beauty therapy students have been on placements at Rudding Park and Ragdale Hall.
Catering students have been working on corporate events such as the Potato Council event, through Harrogate International Centre, and we are delighted that the International Centre has agreed to take business students on placement.
Another important aspect of our work is the service we offer to employers and businesses. This bespoke service provides training which directly targets the exact need of the employer or business. We are also one of a few providers offering training in paediatric first aid and the innovative Forest School initiative supporting local primary schools in this important part of their curriculum offer.
Higher education provides that important step from further education into graduate level courses and we have expanded our offer to ensure students can progress from their studies onto graduate level training all within one curriculum pathway which culminates in a variety of employment opportunities at each stage of learning. Our art and design courses are also being refreshed and the introduction of a Higher National Diploma (HND) provides further flexibility to students wishing to study at degree level.
In my next column I will provide more detail on important changes to apprenticeships and the introduction of Trailblazer frameworks.