As we approach the end of another exciting year in Further Education it is worth spending time reflecting on what the sector has been doing and in particular what we, at Lincoln College, have achieved.
While it has not been an easy year, 2013 has been a good one. Like most other publically-funded organisations, we have had to adapt to deliver more for less.
We are reshaping courses and adapting our estate to ensure that we can deliver the new Study Programmes – longer courses with a greater mix of employability content. That said, we hit our student number targets and surpassed most of our educational and business targets by some distance.
In terms of educational success we have performed well. Our overall success rate continues to sit in the higher echelons of colleges nationally meaning more of our learners have stayed the distance and achieved.
We also saw our first full year of the ‘RPA’: Raising of the Participation Age, which expects all young people to stay within some kind of education or training until the end of the academic year in which they turn 17: this meant we helped many more young people to upskill, with the associated long-term gains this has for them, and society as a whole.
Hot on the heels of rebuilding Deans Building (and a fantastic opening ceremony with HRH The Princess Royal in February) we secured some additional capital money from the Skills Funding Agency to put towards another building scheme.
The refurbishment and extension of the roadside Monks Building will see another £4.5 million invested in our estate, and will add to our campus feel. Most importantly it will contain all sorts of facilities to help our students to progress and achieve. The scheme is now well underway and will be complete by May 2014 – so watch this space.
The college’s activities in the wider community have also been recognised. Our staff continue to populate many voluntary positions within charities and community groups; we were a finalist in the Lincolnshire Business Awards for our community-based Deans Sport and Leisure business and we have been nominated as a national finalist by the Times Educational Supplement in the ‘Best contribution to local Community’ category.
We have also finished 2013 on a high by retaining our Investors in People (Gold) Award. We were the first college in the country to gain the Gold Award back in 2010, and are delighted to have maintained the very high standards the award demands.
Further Education remains a dynamic environment and we face challenging targets to tie our education and training provision even more closely to what the economy demands. We continue to innovate by developing new courses; from traditional full-time courses, through to ever-important apprenticeships, and this year the advent and growth of traineeships.
Each year we contribute more than £185 million to the regional economy, and our other non-financial impacts are also far-reaching. As a key partner in achieving the vision for Lincolnshire as a thriving county with a dynamic sustainable business environment, we look forward to 2014 with excitement.
Ian Sackree is Vice Principal and Deputy CEO of Lincoln College. A former student of Lincoln College, Ian held a number of accountancy and audit positions within the region prior to his appointment in 2005. Ian is also Colonel of the Lincolnshire ACF and Chairman of Lincolnshire YMCA and Nomad Trust.