Carlisle College to join NCG

The Governors of Carlisle College and NCG have agreed to a merger which will see Carlisle College become part of one of the largest education and training groups in the UK. Carlisle College will join NCG from April 2017.

Carlisle College Chair of Governors, David Carter said:

“The Principal and Governors see the merger with NCG as the best solution to securing the future success of Carlisle College and we are keen to benefit from the support, expertise, investment and resources of NCG.”

Jamie Martin, Chair of Governors at NCG said:

“We are delighted that the Governors of Carlisle College have taken the decision to join NCG and look forward to welcoming the team at Carlisle in the coming months.”

Chief Executive of NCG, Joe Docherty, added:

“Carlisle is a successful college which serves the needs of its local community. We share their focus on providing what employers and students in Carlisle need to develop skills for their local economy, and we are pleased to be able to back that with the expertise and capacity of a major national group.”

Carlisle College Acting Principal, Steve Salkeld said:

“This is a hugely exciting time for the College that will bring new opportunities and the ability to respond to new skills needs in the area.

“We will continue to determine our own curriculum in response to local need, with NCG’s full backing for growth and development. The College will retain its identity and name, and will operate as an NCG college. The Group fully shares our commitment to putting learners and the community first, and offers us a very strong and positive future.

“Being part of a larger organisation will help us to secure local provision and bring continued investment to help us meet the needs of learners, employers and the community.”

Carlisle College has a long-established tradition of collaborative and partnership working with the other Cumbrian Colleges and the University of Cumbria.  The merger with NCG fully supports this approach and Carlisle College will continue to work with local partners on the achievement of the priorities set out in the Cumbria LEP’s Skills Investment Plan.

NCG is one of the UK’s largest providers of education, training and employability. The Group is made up of four colleges – Newcastle College, Kidderminster College, West Lancashire College and Newcastle Sixth Form College – and training providers, Intraining and Rathbone Training.

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2016 Highlights

2016 has been a busy year for NCG and our divisions; we take a look back at some of the highlights.

Parsons Building; an £18m redevelopment to transform post-16 learning

Back in March, Newcastle College unveiled the new Parsons Building on campus; a ten-storey facility boasting a range of real working environments to help train students for careers in a number of different sectors.

This includes a dedicated floor for healthcare training with a number of hospital wards that replicate the workings of a modern hospital; childcare facilities including a nursery, wet zone and reception class teaching area; and fully-equipped science laboratories dedicated to the delivery of biology, chemistry and physics. In addition, a domiciliary care flat that replicates a supported living environment with bath hoists, kitchen, and bedroom.

The Newcastle College Parsons Building enables employers to access a much needed training facility that will help them to train, recruit and retain highly skilled workers.

West Lancashire College Students Win Community Impact Award

In April, a group of eight West Lancashire College students came together for the Prince’s Trust team programme, winning the Community Impact Award at the Charity’s national ceremony at the London Palladium.

The Prince’s Trust team programme is designed to help young people develop the skills and confidence to find work in the future. The team set about transforming a garden at the Yewdale Counselling Centre into a tranquil haven, with different areas within the garden, individual seating and even repainted walls within the centre to help create a more relaxed environment for those undertaking counselling.

The team’s commitment to the cause was palpable; working late into the night and on weekends to get the job done, with their desire to go the extra mile to help pushing them over the edge to secure the national prize.  Well done Team 42!

Rathbone’s Legal Highs Destroy Lives Campaign a Success

A campaign led by young people at Rathbone Training has played its part in a change in legislation on legal highs.

At a Question Time event, in Manchester, on 27th March 2015, attended by 50 young people and 20 staff, young people raised the issue of legal highs with the panel of local decision makers which included Kate Green, MP for Stretford and Urmston.

A major talking point in the impassioned debate was the damage ‘legal highs’ do to young people’s lives, with several young people giving accounts of how they have affected them and their family and friends.

The Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 came into force in May, just over a year after learners at Rathbone Training began highlighting the dangers of previously ‘legal highs’ and the impact they can have on people’s lives.

Intraining rated Grade 2 ‘Good’ by Ofsted

In June, Intraining achieved a Grade Two “Good” status from Ofsted, with the report praising its high quality of work with apprentices and partnering companies.

Inspectors looked at the quality of teaching, learning and outcomes for learners at Intraining, and awarded a ‘good’ status across all areas.

The OFSTED results clearly recognise Intraining’s strong work with employers and partners, as well as the investment they make to ensure that learners are safe, supported and are given the chance to fully unlock their potential by developing their skills.


In June, NCG became the first Further Education Institution in the UK to be awarded Taught Degree Awarding Powers.

This landmark development followed an intensive scrutiny process by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, who recognised that Higher Education provision at their Colleges – Newcastle College, West Lancashire College and Kidderminster College – provide a high quality offer to students, equivalent to that of a university.

NCG validated their first BA Hons Degree in November, marking the first full degree award to be validated by a college group in the UK. The online degree in Leadership and Business Management was developed by NCG Direct as part of Newcastle College, and is expected to have its first cohort in January 2017.

NSFC best year on record for results

2016 has been a record breaking year for Newcastle Sixth Form College, with students achieving the best results the college has ever seen.

24 of the subjects the college offers achieved a 100% pass rate, with 85% of students choosing to progress to university (25% of which gained places at Russell Group universities).

Training Provider of the Year Award

In November, Kidderminster College was named Training Provider of the Year at the Worcester Apprenticeship Awards due to their excelled contribution to apprenticeships – both through increasing numbers and quality – and their role as apprenticeship ambassadors promoting apprenticeships in Worcestershire to young people, schools and employers.

Statistically, Kidderminster College’s success rates are well above the national average with an outstanding 99% of apprentices remaining in employment on completion of their apprenticeship programmes.

A Year of Student Successes

  • Newcastle Sixth Form College Student, Jennifer Olsen, was announced as the winner of the Talent 2030 National Engineering Competition for Girls for her project where she sought to develop cost effective ways of producing 3D printed prosthetic limbs.
  • Kidderminster College Administration Apprentice, Kathleen Sandford, from The Community Housing Group (TCHG) in Kidderminster, won the top award at the National Apprenticeship Service Awards, becoming the National Intermediate Apprentice of the Year.
  • West Lancashire College apprentice, Jack Baybutt, was also voted Intermediate Apprentice of the Year due to his infectious enthusiasm and business drive with his employer, The Cashroom Ltd.
  • Enthusiastic apprentices at leading energy provider npower had their successes celebrated with special awards presented by Intraining.
  • Learners from Rathbone Training received a National Volunteer Award from the Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) for their work with Neath Foodbank where they regularly help weigh, sort, pack and deliver food hampers.
  • Kidderminster College Dance Student, Joel Cooper, landed a role in the award winning musical, Wicked, at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.
  • Newcastle College student, Kieran Nelson, won the title of ‘Apprentice of the Year’ at this year’s prestigious Newcastle Business Awards.

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NCG Introduce College Boards for each College within the Group

NCG is introducing a board for each of its colleges: Newcastle College; Newcastle Sixth Form College; West Lancashire College; and Kidderminster College, to provide non-executive oversight at a local level.

The introduction of individual boards brings an opportunity to influence and strengthen each of the colleges by collaborating with local leadership teams to ensure quality and effectiveness of provision which reaches thousands of learners every year.

This will enable NCG to move to a strategy which focuses on the local needs of the colleges within the group, ensuring that the curriculum design and quality agenda are supervised by people who are best placed to provide the checks and balances that good governance demands.

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The ultimate transparency for college group structures

An article in the TES FE reveals that the Education Funding Agency (EFA) will now allow each NCG Division to submit separate data returns via separate UK Learning Provider Reference Numbers (UKPRNs) for EFA-funded provision from 2016-17 onwards.

Our CEO, Joe Docherty, expresses his views on the much-anticipated change:

“This provides the ultimate transparency for group structures, but for me it is about more than just transparency. The counterpart to transparency is accountability, and by collecting and publishing data at division (or college) level, and with Ofsted committed to moving to inspections at that level, as CEO I can devolve more responsibility to college principals in the knowledge NCG itself will not itself be inspected.

This is allowing us to move away from a command and control model, with faster responsiveness, better performance and the improved culture which follows.”

Joe Docherty, CEO of NCG.

Read the full story from TES FE here.

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NCG welcomes potential Ofsted changes

An article in the TES FE claims that Ofsted is considering changes to its grading system, examining College’s at a campus level rather than just corporation level.

This is something NCG has been passionately calling for and our CEO, Joe Docherty, is featured in the story sharing his view on the current system and what a potential change would mean for NCG and all its colleges.

“Ofsted finds it practically impossible to inspect NCG and understand its constituent parts,” said Chief Executive Joe Docherty.

“It does not discriminate between performance in West Lancashire College, Kidderminster College or Newcastle College, and is therefore not serving the interests of learners, businesses or any other critical stakeholders of any of the colleges. We Welcome the consultation and will be delighted to take part.”

You can read the full story in the TES FE by following this link, it is a truly interesting read for anyone involved in FE.

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NCG first in FE to be granted full degree awarding powers

NCG becomes country’s first FE provider to be allowed to award own Degrees in historic decision

We are delighted to announce that we are the first FE institution in the UK ever to be able to develop and award its own Honours and Masters degrees.

Granted by the Privy Council, NCG has been awarded Taught Degree Awarding Powers (TDAP). This represents a great opportunity for our students to benefit from a wider range of degree level provision and puts NCG on an equal footing to universities in the degree awarding market.

We will use these new powers to build on our strengths as a vocational HE provider, developing degrees which are more responsive and meet the skills needs of employers. It will also allow us to support the Government’s increased focus on higher level apprenticeships and offer more opportunities for students from all backgrounds to progress into higher education.

This ground-breaking development follows on from an intensive scrutiny process by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, who recognised that HE provision at our Colleges – Newcastle College, West Lancashire College and Kidderminster College – provide a high quality offer to students equivalent to that of a university and that we are a mature organisation capable of setting and regulating its own quality standards.

NCG, which has a nationwide network of colleges and training providers including Newcastle College, West Lancashire College and Kidderminster College already offer more than 85 Foundation Degrees and Honours Degrees in a wide range of subjects. We were also one of the first to be awarded Foundation Degree Awarding Powers in 2011 and have a well-established, successful track record of providing learners with fantastic learning experience. Since 2014 over 1,000 graduates each year have had their degrees accredited solely by NCG and not a partner university.

NCG Chief Executive, Joe Docherty said: “Gaining Taught Degree Awarding powers is a landmark development for the sector. It’s a real breakthrough nationally and we are extremely proud to be leading the way for the whole of the further education sector.”

“Our colleges already work closely with employers to develop provision that addresses local and national skills gaps. Degree Awarding powers will enable us to be more responsive to the demand for higher level skills as well as supporting the local economy and more people into jobs.

“We look forward to seeing other colleges following this path and would be happy to share our experiences with others in the sector.”

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said: “This is a significant step forward for NCG and opens up more opportunities for young people in the local community to enjoy the benefits that higher education can bring.”

Commenting on colleges being able to award taught degrees, Martin Doel, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, said: “The ability to award taught degrees is a big step forward in demonstrating the quality of higher education (HE) provision delivered in the sector. Hopefully the Government’s Higher Education and Research Bill will reduce any unnecessary bureaucracy to benefit colleges currently in the application process.

“We predict that more colleges will follow the example set by NCG in the next few years and will provide a distinctive HE service that meets the needs of local employers and communities.”

Chi Onwurah, MP for Newcastle Central said : “This is a fantastic achievement for NCG and Newcastle College. Promoting fair access to higher education and giving local people more choice on where they want to study is vitally important. Our Colleges sit at the heart of our communities providing many opportunities for people of all ages to progress into higher education and employment, as well as supporting local businesses through higher level skills and training.

“As Chair of the APPG on Adult Education and a Newcastle MP I’ve seen first-hand how local colleges can vastly improve lives and support our thriving business community and regional economy.”

Jamie Martin, Chair of Governors, NCG said : “This award is a huge vote of confidence for NCG and its Colleges, and I am delighted at this tremendous achievement. NCG is once again leading the way for the FE sector and breaking new ground. Taught Degree Awarding Powers will enable our Colleges to be more responsive to the regional and national skills agenda through the development of higher level skills and training.

“This is something that the team at NCG have worked towards for many years and will set the bar for the sector as a whole. I very much hope that it will encourage other FE providers to continue the development of vocational higher level skills and training for the benefit of our regional and national economy.”


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Shadow Transport Secretary visits Rail Academy

Shadow Transport Secretary, Lilian Greenwood, visited Newcastle College’s Rail Academy today to highlight the importance of the growth of the rail engineering in the North East.

The Shadow Minister travelled to the region with Labour MP, Alan Johnson and Paul Brannen, MEP as part of the campaign to encourage voters to remain in the EU; but took time out to visit the Rail Academy to see how it is supporting growth in the rail industry through skills and training.

During the visit, Ms Greenwood met with students looking to develop careers in rail engineering and toured the £5 million facility which features indoor and outdoor track, overhead line and signalling and telecommunications equipment.

Newcastle College, a division of national training and colleges group, NCG, developed the Academy in response to ambitious plans to create a ‘truly world class rail network’.

Developed with support from the National Skills Academy for Rail (NSAR) and Network Rail, the national hub for training and development for rail engineering 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.

Lilian Greenwood said: “I’ve been really impressed by what I have seen today at Newcastle College’s Rail Academy. The students are incredibly committed and realise the opportunities that they are going to get in the rail industry. You can see that local employers who are working on the railway can have access to some really skilled staff for the future.

“On the one hand students have got this fantastic facility where they can work on the railway. It’s the best I’ve seen probably up and down the country in terms of facilities, so they’ve got real hands on experience. But it’s also about the staff that they have access to – people who know what it’s like to work in the industry and can share that experience with them. It’s not theoretical, it’s incredibly practical and I think that’s really shone through on the visit today.”

Tony Lewin, Principal of Newcastle College, said: “We were delighted to welcome Ms Greenwood and Mr Johnson to the Rail Academy and have the chance to showcase the fantastic work that our staff and learners are doing to support the huge investment and growth in rail through the provision of training and skills. The Shadow Secretary has championed the resurgence of rail engineering in the region and was keen to see how the next generation of engineers and technicians are being developed.”

Rail 2

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Carlisle College announces proposal to join NCG

Carlisle College today announced it proposes to join NCG, one of the largest further education and training groups in the country, to strengthen and further develop its provision and meet the needs of the local community.

Carlisle College Chair of Governors, David Carter said ‘We were very clear about what we were looking for. When we approached NCG, we discovered they absolutely share our vision of providing the best possible education and training for Carlisle and the surrounding area and we are delighted to be moving into detailed discussions about the future.”

NCG, which has a nationwide network of colleges and training organisations, will support the continued development of provision in and around Carlisle. This will ensure the greatest security for staff and students and ongoing investment in Carlisle College at a time when small colleges are facing challenges in a difficult funding environment.

Chief Executive of NCG, Joe Docherty, said: “We are delighted that Carlisle College wants to join NCG. We share their focus on providing what employers and students in Carlisle need to develop skills for their local economy, and we are pleased to be able to back that with the expertise and capacity of a major national group.”

The move will ensure the Carlisle College brand remains and is strengthened. The college will retain its local identity and a high degree of autonomy whilst benefiting from the support, expertise, investment and resources of the group.

Carlisle College Principal, Moira Tattersall said “This is a really exciting time for the college and for Carlisle. NCG has a fantastic reputation for innovation and professionalism, and becoming part of the group will enhance Carlisle College’s ability to respond to new skills needs in the area.

“The College will continue to do all the things it is known for and will have the resources and stability to develop new opportunities and address the needs and priorities that we cannot tackle alone. There is an opportunity to learn from NCG’s Aviation Training Centre at Newcastle Airport and their Rail Academy and see how this can help develop the Colleges offer in Carlisle.”

Carlisle College has a long-established tradition of collaborative and partnership working with the other Cumbrian Colleges and the University of Cumbria. The merger with NCG would fully support this approach with Carlisle College continuing to work with local partners on the achievement of the priorities set out in the Cumbria LEP’s Skills Investment Plan.

Carlisle College and NCG has now moved to detailed negotiations and will publish a formal public consultation document with a view to concluding the merger in time for the start of the new academic year this September. The consultation on this plan will coincide with the Government’s Area Based Review of Cumbrian Colleges. The proposals to join NCG will dovetail with that process and take account of any feedback that emerges as a result.

Public consultation is an essential part of the approval process so it is important that everyone in the community has the opportunity to put forward their views and take part.

You can give your views in one of four ways:

Responses should be made no later than 12 noon on Monday, 25 April 2016.

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