Plans to boost further and higher education with devolution
College and university leaders in Nottinghamshire have discussed plans for an ‘integration of education and skills for over-16s’ as part of the county’s devolution proposals.
This, council leaders were told, would allow further and higher education bosses to work together and alongside councils to bid for large funding pots in a boost for education provision.
The meeting was discussed by the Nottinghamshire economic prosperity committee.
It involved key officials from Nottingham Trent University and principals of further education colleges across the county.
The plans tie in with the committee’s aim to develop skills and education as the nine local authorities, including Nottinghamshire, Mansfield and Ashfield councils, seek a devolved ‘County Deal’ from Whitehall.
The committee heard closer ties between the providers could include partnerships between NTU and some local colleges across the county.
College interest has already emerged in the partnerships, including in Newark, and agreements could be similar to that currently in place between the university and Mansfield’s West Nottinghamshire College.
This is where some further and higher education courses are provided at the college site, bringing more opportunity to people over the age of 16 while boosting local education provision.
John Robinson, Newark & Sherwood Council chief executive, told the committee how closer education partnerships could benefit the county.
He said: “One of the things that stuck out in the meeting was the way Nottingham Trent University vice-chancellor Edward Peck was articulating a vision around the integration of education and skills for the over 16s.
“This is bringing together schools, further education colleges and the higher education sector in a closer way.
“There’s an awful lot of opportunity here.”
Devolution packages give local leaders more decision-making and spending power on policy issues such as education.
Councillors were told increased funding could be used for ‘innovation, enterprise and leadership’.
The committee heard the closer partnerships with education providers, including working together to seek funding from the Government, would help ‘boost the life chances’ of teenagers and young adults in the county.
Coun Ben Bradley, county council leader and Mansfield MP, said: “This would be hugely beneficial.
“There’s a conversation we need to have with the Department for Education particularly about post-16 and I’m hoping to touch base with the minister about this in the new year.”