Askham Bryan College is waving the flag at its Newton Rigg campus in a national campaign to raise awareness of the vital role colleges play in providing first rate education and technical skills.
Colleges Week takes place from Monday 15 October to Friday 19 October and is part of the “Love our Colleges” initiative to highlight the need for proper investment in the further education sector. Newton Rigg is part of Askham Bryan College and specialises in rurally-based courses, and agriculture in particular.
Catherine Dixon, Chief Executive, said: “We are supporting the campaign to celebrate the amazing things we are doing in transforming the potential of the next generation. We literally change lives through learning as we open young people’s eyes to the opportunities there are in terms of career choices and then help make those choices possible.
“However, our young people are being short-changed compared with their counterparts abroad, and compared with previous generations. The hours of teaching and support, the choices they have and the enrichment they are offered have all reduced as funding cuts have bitten. We owe it to this generation of young people to ensure their aspirations and potential are not undermined by further Government cuts.”
As the academic year gets underway students continue to beat a path to the college’s door. There are already some 560 “new starters”, with many taking advantage of the on-site accommodation. Numbers continue to rise with last minute decisions being made up to half term. Amongst them are 52 new faces who have joined the agriculture courses, 28 new agricultural engineers and 35 new game-keeping students. Newton Rigg has around 800 students in total.
One of its key strengths is the number of apprentices who study on the campus as part of their work-based learning programmes. Currently there are around 300 young people working in the region studying subjects as varied as hair dressing and agricultural engineering, as well as the core subject of agriculture.
Amongst the businesses which work in partnership with the college is agricultural supply company, Carrs Billington. With bases in Cumbria and beyond, Carrs has been involved with the college for more than three decades.
Regional Branch Manager, Ian Powley, said: ‘The partnership works really well; over the years we will have sent dozens of apprentices to Newton Rigg, and have taken on several full time when they’ve completed their training. We currently have three apprentices working for us which speaks for itself. And the connection doesn’t stop there, we also sponsor scholarship awards and work with the farm team organising events including Grassland North and from time to time our staff provide additional expertise as guest lecturers.
“The college is an important to the farming community, so we share many common goals: it’s vital that the next generation are encouraged to achieve their potential.”
Newton Rigg is very much a part of the local community – the Cumbria Young Farmers have their offices on site, numerous equine events are held in the indoor arena plus sports clubs and teams make extensive use of the campus facilities and a host of inter-school sporting events take place on site, hosted and organised by students.
The campaign has drawn support from colleges across the country and includes a national lobby of Parliament on Wednesday 17 October. It calls on government to increase funding for 16-19 year olds by 5% for 5 years. It is also asking the Department for Education to provide exceptional funding, ring-fenced for lecturer pay.
The “Love our Colleges” campaign is a partnership between the Association of Colleges, the National Union of Students, Association of College and School Leaders, University and Colleges Union, Unison, GMB, TUC and the National Education Union.
David Hughes, Chief Executive, Association of Colleges, said: “Every single day colleges like Askham Bryan provide a world class education and transform the lives of millions of people. Colleges Week is an opportunity to celebrate the brilliant things that go on and a chance to showcase the brilliant staff that make it possible. It is simple, if we want a world-class education system, then we need to properly invest in it.”