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Nottinghamshire university and college leaders discuss plans for over 16s education and skills boost

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Leaders of universities and colleges 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 major boost for education provision.

The meeting, which was the first of its kind to happen for quite some time, took place this week and was discussed during the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Economic Prosperity Committee on Friday.

Nottinghamshire County Council headquarters County Hall.
Nottinghamshire County Council headquarters County Hall.

It involved key officials from Nottingham Trent University and principals of further education colleges across all corners of Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.

The plans tie in with the committee’s aim to develop skills and education as the nine local authorities 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.

Nottinghamshire County Council headquarters County Hall.
Nottinghamshire County Council headquarters County Hall.

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 Vision West Nottinghamshire College in Mansfield.

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 also boosting local education provision.

Speaking during Friday’s economic prosperity committee, chief executive of Newark and Sherwood District Council John Robinson outlined how the 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 than has taken place previously.

“There are a number of pots of money that, at the moment, the universities and the FE sector are applying to government for.

“One of the asks will be about bringing those pots of funding together into a single fund, where [the economic prosperity committee has] local commissioning powers.

“There’s an awful lot of opportunity here around different pots of money and we can have a lot of local choice over it.”

Devolution packages give local leaders more decision making and spending power on policy issues such as education.

The funding pots could bring greater sums of money into the county to be spent in one place, with councillors told the cash 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 to boost the life chances of teenagers and young adults in the county.

Ben Bradley MP, leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, welcomed the changes and 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.”

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