July 13, 2022 6.00 pm

Council worries about declining further education standards in West Lindsey

Lincoln College has withdrawn from district

West Lindsey District Council is worried about declining further education standards in the district, as Lincoln College is moving Post-16 provision from its Gainsborough campus.

The Prosperous Communities Committee on Tuesday will vote to create a Further Education Taskforce in order to “consider and plan a way forward… in Gainsborough and West Lindsey”.

It follows Lincoln College’s decision to move its Post-16 provision from its Gainsborough campus to Newark or Lincoln.

The site will be leased to Castles Future who aim to provide “alternative provision” to 11-16-year-olds instead from September.

The report describes a “steady decline” in Post-16 students over the past decade, with estimates of just 40-60 students in Construction, Automotive and Engineering.

Data from the West Lindsey State of the District Report 2022, shows the number of people holding at least five GCSEs or equivalent has fallen from 76.2% to 64.5% – equivalent to 35,000 residents.

A-level equivalent education has also fallen from 53.4% to 51.2% – around 28,500 people.

Meanwhile, only 69% of people in West Lindsey live within 30 minutes of post-16 further education compared with a county average of 78%, according to a  Lincolnshire County Council analysis.

More than 20% of employment in the district is in the manufacturing or construction centre.

Employers told WLDC they “struggle to recruit locally and have voiced their concerns about losing provision and learners at a crucial time for the economy”.

Announcing its move in June, Castles Education said it was “delighted” to open the Gainsborough school and skills hub from September.

“Expanding to Gainsborough will allow us to offer all our curriculum in one location with a significant increase in available pupil places,” said Lee Wright, Castles Education Executive Head Teacher.

The curriculum will include vocational training for existing Keystage 3 and Keystage 4 students as well as new post-16 courses for young learners with learning needs.

The council’s report said that 30% of pupils that that will be studying at Castles will be from within the West Lindsey district.