A Cumbrian college is in talks to offer a lifeline to Newton Rigg students.
It was announced yesterday that the Further Education Commissioner-led Newton Rigg Strategic Review concluded it was unable to identify an organisation to continue delivering sustainable land based education at the campus, and that Askham Bryan College should continue with finding a buyer for the site.
It has been revealed this morning that Ullswater Community College in Penrith has been in talks with Myerscough College in Preston to investigate if they could offer agricultural and animal management courses for sixth form students in Cumbria.
Myerscough College was recently approached by a number of parties, led by Neil Hudson, MP for Penrith and The Border.
A statement from Ullswater Community College sad: “At this stage it is critical that this year’s school leavers and the young people currently studying at Newton Rigg are fully aware of the next steps available to them, to reduce further stress and anxiety, and to ensure they complete their current study programmes to the best of their abilities, in already very difficult circumstances due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.”
Ullswater Community College is the biggest feeder high school for land-based education to the Newton Rigg campus, offering Level 2 (GCSE equivalent) programmes in animal studies and agriculture.
It added: “Extending this offer into the sixth form could provide an essential lifeline to allow land-based education to continue to operate within the local community whilst further exploration takes place, led by Dr Hudson, on securing the Newton Rigg sites for the future.”
Dr Hudson said: “Like everyone here in Cumbria I am deeply disappointed that at this stage of the process it was not possible to secure a local, Department for Education-compliant bid to take over the college.
“This will be a bitter blow for the staff and students of Newton Rigg and I fully understand how upsetting this will be, especially after our long-fought campaign to save the college.
“But I want to assure folk that there still is hope and we fight on.
“With that in mind, it is vital that we maintain continuity of educational provision for our young people here in Penrith and I am really pleased that Myerscough College and Ullswater Community College have agreed to come together and work with local stakeholders to secure local educational provision in Cumbria.
“This offers a lifeline for the community while we all work together to secure the farms and campus for a new longer-term Newton Rigg College entity.”
Alison Robinson, chief executive and principal of Myerscough College, added: “Myerscough College wants to see land-based education flourish in Cumbria, and we have come into the process having been invited after a local Cumbrian solution was not possible within the timeframe. We are delighted to be working with Ullswater Community College and we believe that this continuity of provision will provide clarity for new students and a number of students progressing with their studies and will be a platform for the continuation of land-based education within Penrith, which is so critical for both young people and employers in the Cumbrian community.”
Stephen Gilby, headteacher of Ullswater Community College, said: “Newton Rigg College here in Penrith has been an important destination for significant numbers of our pupils and we are very happy to be working with Myerscough, Dr Hudson and local stakeholders on this innovative solution.
“Ullswater Community College is at the heart of the community in Penrith and we firmly believe that this partnership can be built upon to sustain land-based education in Penrith, Eden and Cumbria long into the future.”
Myerscough is one of the leading institutions in the UK within the land-based sector, teaching more than twenty different subjects, all of which give learners the hands-on, practical skills required to secure dream jobs and make a difference to people’s lives.
In Cumbria, Myerscough has recently built a very successful partnership with Furness College, in the south of the county, offering City and Guilds vocational study programmes in the animal sector at Levels 2 and 3.
This is delivered by a combination of two days a week of local classroom learning, with additional travel one day a week to Myerscough, via a free, dedicated bus service, where practical elements are taught.
The statement added “Myerscough College and Ullswater Community College both remain committed to working with Dr Hudson and key partners in Cumbria and the Borderlands region to determine the best way forward in the coming weeks and months to support the ongoing delivery of land-based education in the country.”