Month March 2016


Newcastle College crowned best FE College at national education awards

Newcastle College was last night crowned FE College of the Year at the first Educate the North Awards.

The high profile awards celebrate and recognise excellence in the education sector in the North.

The College beat off stiff competition to pick up the prestigious award, which recognised its outstanding work with employers, the community and in tackling unemployment. It also won the Access Award for the work its Learning Support Team does to break down barriers to learning and was the only college shortlisted in this category.

The awards, launched earlier this year, are the first of its kind and focus on a growing sector which is critical to the economic and cultural health and future of not only the Northern economy, but the UK generally.

Newcastle College Principal, Carole Kitching accepted the awards on behalf of the college at a special ceremony in Manchester last night. She said:

“These accolades are a huge thank you to the hard work undertaken by all of our staff and students over the last few years. To be recognised as the top FE college is a huge honour and testament to the outstanding student experience that we can offer at Newcastle College. I am completely overwhelmed by this achievement and am so proud of everyone at the college who has contributed to our success.”

Newcastle College is one of the country’s leading providers of FE and HE. The college has around 18,000 students studying a wide range of courses from foundation level to Masters Degree. It is one of a few colleges nationwide able to enrol students on a full time basis from 14 years old. It was also one of the first to be able to develop and validate its own foundation degrees.

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Multi-million pound Rail Academy ‘a critical part of the future investment in skills’

A new multi-million pound training facility, which will help to secure the future of rail engineering in the North East, has received support from the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Vince Cable praised Newcastle College’s Rail Academy as being ‘a critical part of the future investment in skills’ in a specially recorded message to mark its official opening.

The college run academy is the first of its kind in the country and will be a regional hub for training and development for railway engineering. It was designed to respond to the Government’s ambitious plans to create a ‘truly world-class rail network’ by pledging to make what it describes as ‘the biggest investment in rail infrastructure in the last 150 years’.

The Business Secretary said:

“The Rail Academy is an important initiative that will support the Government’s investment in the future of the UK’s rail infrastructure. Developing specialist training and skills is vital in creating the next generation of rail engineers and will provide opportunities for thousands of young people to develop careers in this growing sector. I would like to congratulate Newcastle College on this outstanding facility and wish all of the students every success in the future.”

Developed with support from the National Skills Academy for Railway Engineering (NSARE) and Network Rail, the Rail Academy will help the industry address regional and national skills gaps, support further job creation and ensure the vitality of the rail sector in light of a rapidly ageing workforce.

The Academy serves all age groups, including young people looking to develop a career in the rail sector, those wanting to change career and employers who need to up-skill their existing work force or simply recruit for future growth. It is able to blend all aspects of the rail environment under one roof, particularly for signalling, telecommunications, electrification and permanent way.

The Rail Academy will not only produce the rail engineers of the future, it will also offer a bespoke training venue to help employers up-skill existing staff, and train new staff in a safe environment. Full-time diplomas in rail engineering, suitable for all age groups, are currently available. Bespoke HNC courses and degree courses are also now being developed in conjunction with industry partners. There are also a wide range of industry standard courses.

Marc McPake, Head of the Rail Academy, said:

“The opening of the rail academy signifies the start of a new era in training for the next generation of rail engineers. I believe that what we have here is unique. We are helping to develop the skills that are needed by industry today, but also creating a pipeline of skilled people with the knowledge of the state of the art equipment that we will see in the rail industry in the future.

The Government is investing millions in our rail infrastructure and we are seeing massive innovations in rail engineering that must be underpinned by high level skills and training. We know that there is a huge demand for skilled workers and we must use this opportunity to inspire the next generation of rail engineers as well as support employers to develop their existing workforce. The Rail Academy is a great example of collaboration between industry and education. It’s important that everything we do is focussed around the needs of employers as that is what will help us secure the future of rail engineering in the north east and create job opportunities for more and more local people every year.”

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Discovery School opens its doors

The innovative Discovery School opened its doors for the first time on 8 September 2014.

Supported by a wealth of North East businesses, Discovery School offers traditional GCSE and A-Level qualifications in its multi-million pound environment for students aged between 14 and 19 who live in Tyne and Wear, Northumberland and County Durham.

Specialising in engineering, maths and science, it aims to prepare young people for working in the sectors by providing industry-standard equipment, offering a relevant curriculum and partnering closely with employers.

Principal Wendy Allen said

“We’re hugely excited to be welcoming our new students into the school.”

The facilities at Discovery School are simply phenomenal. We have worked with experts to ensure the facilities and equipment we have is not only industry-standard, but are the latest models available and are plentiful for students to use.

We want our students to become accustomed to the engineering and manufacturing machinery in use across industry and we want them to feel at home in a work environment.”

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