Retford post-16 education set for major changes to boost local economy

A-Level courses will be taught at the Elizabethan Academy in Retford from September as part of a major shake-up for post-16 education in the area.
A-Level courses will be taught at the Elizabethan Academy in Retford from September as part of a major shake-up for post-16 education in the area.

The partnership providing post-16 education in Retford is to relocate its A-level teaching in order to make space for more technical courses and possibly even higher degrees.

From September 2018, A-level courses will be delivered at The Elizabethan Academy and Retford Oaks Academy sites, rather than the dedicated Retford Post-16 Centre.

North Notts College is seeking approval to expand its use of that site to enhance the range of vocational options available to career learners, with decisions still to be taken over how and when that will happen.

John Connolly, chief executive of the RNN Group, which runs the college, said: “We are proud to be working with the two Retford academies and the Diverse Academies Learning Partnership on this exciting proposal for post-16 education in Retford.

“There is tremendous potential for new opportunities for our young people which will offer them progression to great careers with local and national employers.”

Both academies say they have capacity to accommodate sixth-form students within their current infrastructure, but are making arrangements to ensure space and facilities will meet student needs, both educational and extra-curricular.

Those students currently at the centre will be given the choice to return to their base academy for the final year of their courses, or swap if the other academy has a more suitable offer for them.

Tuxford Post-16 Centre will also be involved in the delivery of some courses.

Heather Widdup, Retford Oaks principal, said: “Teaching A-level qualifications within our respective academies has many advantages.

“Our students will have access to support from teachers they are familiar with and have the opportunity to gain important leadership skills by taking on responsibilities within their academies.

“For our younger students, we know how important contact with their older peers is, as they offer an aspirational outlook on further, and indeed higher, education.”

The plans have been developed over the last year in response to government strategy which predicts increased demand for higher level professional and technical skills, particularly following Brexit.

If approval is secured, the partnership believe such qualifications can be made more accessible for local students and their families and will encourage more graduates to remain in the area and contribute to its economy.

School and college leaders say they have taken into account a wealth of feedback and views of students, parents and providers, as well as skills gaps identified by the Local Enterprise Partnership in areas such as health and high-tech manufacturing and construction.

Chris Horrocks, The Elizabethan Academy principal, said: “We have very carefully considered the impact of this change for both current and future students, and firmly believe that our joint plans will ensure we can offer the right mix of further education.

“This will provide a breadth of high-quality courses which enable our young people to join the workforce with the skills and qualifications that we know employers need and value.”

Further information about the move – and more detailed plans for the post-16 centre – will be made available over the coming months.