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The Corporation

Posted: 25/01/13

Minister praises pastoral care at college

Pastoral care and support of students at West Nottinghamshire College has been applauded by the shadow education minister.

Karen Buck MP praised the college’s provision for vulnerable learners during a visit to its Ashfield Centre earlier this week.

The centre, in Huthwaite Road, runs specially-tailored vocational programmes for young people not in education, work or training.

Many come with a range of complex issues such as exclusion from school, bullying, homelessness, teenage pregnancy, domestic violence or previous drug and alcohol misuse.

But after completing programmes at Ashfield, most learners progress into mainstream education at the college or into employment.

Ms Buck said: “One of the things I have a particular interest in is how we best support those young people for whom the traditional educational model has been less successful.

“As a relatively small facility, the Ashfield Centre allows students who’ve had challenges in their past education to be nurtured in a dedicated place that both challenges them but also deals with issues around confidence and past problems in education.

“It’s an excellent facility geared at young people not in education, employment or training and is very impressive indeed.”   

Ms Buck was invited to visit West Notts after recently questioning the ability of colleges nationally to support young learners, particularly 14-year-olds directly recruited from schools, saying they may not always get “the full pastoral care and support they would want.”

Her comments, made at the Association of Colleges annual conference in November, prompted college chiefs to show her how it is nurturing younger students, particularly those from vulnerable backgrounds or those more suited to vocational education.

Ms Buck learned more about the college’s successful Schools Academy programme, which provides vocational programmes to 14 to 16-year-olds on day release from local schools.

She also met students at its construction and logistics skills academy in Kirkby-in-Ashfield and main Derby Road campus in Mansfield.

Deputy principal Patricia Harman said: “We were very proud to highlight our pastoral support to students as one of the college’s major strengths.

“We are fortunate to have many specialist services such as a careers team, a mentoring service, a health, welfare and safety team and a dedicated counselling referral service, all of which are available to students across every campus.

“It was particularly good to show Ms Buck the excellent work being done to support some of our most vulnerable students at the Ashfield Centre and she seemed very impressed by this.”