Thousands of food items donated to foodbanks this festive season by Nelson and Colne College Group

Nelson and Colne College Group has distributed almost 3,000 items of food to nine Lancashire foodbanks in the run up to Christmas.

Proving it truly is the season of goodwill, those who are need of foodbank support in Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Rossendale and Leyland will benefit from the donations that have been made by the College Group – which incorporates Nelson and Colne College, Accrington and Rossendale College and Lancashire Adult Learning.

Nelson and Colne College Group has been one of a number of colleges taking part in the national FE Foodbank Friday initiative since lockdown began in March.

Initially, £1,500 was raised and donated to three local foodbanks in the Spring, and that developed into donations of store cupboard items as well as treats in the lead up to Christmas.

The foodbanks receiving donations this festive season are:

  • Haslingden Community Link
  • Maundy Relief – Accrington
  • Salvation Army – Nelson Citadel
  • Colne Open Door
  • Inspiring Grace – Nelson
  • Colne Citadel
  • St Matthew the Apostle with Holy Trinity Church – Burnley
  • The Base Community Centre – Leyland
  • Burnley FC in the Community

In addition, the Maundy Relief foodbank in Accrington recently put out an urgent call for unwanted coats and jackets for the winter period, and this week 20 bin bags of coats were donated by the College Group.

Rachel Cox, Careers and Personal Development Manager at Nelson and Colne College Group said: “Through the collective efforts of staff and students we have managed to donate a phenomenal amount of food this festive season.

“It was truly heart-warming to see such an array of different goods and the bags piling up each day – and I’m delighted these have now been delivered to those who require a little bit of support this Christmas.

“We are hoping to continue with our foodbank collections in the New Year to continue supporting those in need in our local communities.”

College Group teams up with Community Solutions to deliver festive cheer

Nelson and Colne College Group has teamed up with Community Solutions North West to deliver some festive cheer to East Lancashire residents.

During the season of goodwill, Community Solutions is aiming to deliver wellbeing boxes of essentials to over 500 local residents who are lonely, socially isolated or in crisis as a way to try and lift spirits.

Included within the boxes are natural wood tree decorations designed and manufactured by the College Group’s Engineering department, engraved with ‘Merry Christmas from Community Solutions’.

Also within the boxes are essential items like tea, coffee, food supplies and toiletries alongside festive treats including chocolate, positivity jars, Christmas jars, and hand-written cards.

Michael Molloy, Engineering Technician at Nelson and Colne College Group, said: “We’re always keen whenever the call comes to support community projects – and this was no exception, particularly after the year we have had and the loneliness and isolation that circumstances have caused.

“We’re really pleased with the finish of the decorations, and we hope they are well-received by residents in East Lancashire, and provide a bit of comfort this festive season.”

Leanne Taylor, Enterprise Development Manager at Community Solutions, said: “We’re really thankful to everyone in the community who has supported us in making the wellbeing boxes a possibility.

“The donation of 500 personalised decorations from Nelson and Colne College Group is a great addition to the boxes, and will be something that participants can hang on their tree year after year to remind them that they are not alone. The gesture shows a real commitment to the community of Accrington and beyond.”

My pride at incredible efforts of College Group in an unprecedented year

I write my final Principal’s Voice column of 2020 struggling to understand and comprehend where the year has gone. It has been the strangest year that I have experienced in my working life, but I have never been prouder of our incredible staff, students, partners and supporters who have shown real strength and determination in these unprecedented times. 

As usual, my final column of the year is a review of our highlights from across our College Group, of which there have been many…


We kicked off January with a successful Engineering Apprenticeship Event at Nelson and Colne College, where we were joined by many of our employer partners from the sector who we support through our outstanding Engineering department.

Colleagues at Lancashire Adult Learning began the year by launching a purpose-built Health and Social Care Hub at Northlight and a ‘Take 5’ initiative to support the health and wellbeing of our friends at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust.


National Apprenticeship Week was the main feature of February, as Vice Principal Alison Rushton was out and about on the roads of East Lancashire to meet employers – including Burnley Football Club and Motor Vehicle Apprentices past and present at Graham’s of Colne.

It was also the month Nelson and Colne College became the number one FE College in the country for the progress that students make during their A Level studies – an occasion to celebrate – and Morag Davis took up the position as Centre Principal at our Accrington campus.


Accrington and Rossendale College climbed up the National Achievement Rate Tables to become a top five college in the country for classroom learning achievement, and the number one college in Lancashire for 16-18 Advanced Apprenticeships – one of the benefits of being part of Nelson and Colne College Group.

March was also the month our LAL team delivered a series of hugely successful events including a community wellbeing day at Padiham Town Hall, in partnership with the East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group, and a health and wellbeing showcase at Northlight.


After the arrival of lockdown and a switch to online delivery for students and adult learners, April was the month where we at Nelson and Colne College Group showed our support to the NHS with a huge donation of PPE. We also celebrated our former students now working on the frontline, including former Health and Social Care friends Jasmin and Ellie at Leeds General Infirmary.


May was the month where we launched a new Higher Education offer, tailored to meet the needs of learners and employers operating in East Lancashire’s unique economy. Nelson and Colne College Group also won a Skills Award for our outstanding GCSE resit provision, and the new Hair and Beauty salons at Accrington became a real highlight of our £4million makeover of the campus.


Vocational Business student Marium Shafique, 21, from Nelson, was named winner of the BTEC Business and Enterprise Learner of the Year Award and the BTEC Adult Learner of the Year Award 2020! Marium had an inspiring five-year journey of progression at Nelson and Colne College as she went from speaking no English to achieving the highest grade possible in her course to secure a place at one of the country’s leading business schools at Lancaster University.

The development of our Accrington campus neared completion as the new entrance off Sandy Lane and the green space creation completely transformed the gateway to the College site.


The transformation of our delivery online continued apace in July with our first ever Virtual New Student Event for Nelson and Colne College and our sister College Accrington and Rossendale College. All applicants received a personalised invitation to experience the College’s modern facilities with online tours, interactive campus maps, video content, panoramic photography and much more.


Even in the strangest of years, with no summer exams sat, and no Results Day celebration, it was comforting to know that our A Level and Vocational students could progress onto university or into Apprenticeships or employment opportunities having been awarded their Centre Assessed Grades. Yet again we had exceptional progression routes, including Russell Group universities and Oxbridge, as we achieved a 100% A Level pass rate and a 100% Advanced Vocational pass rate.


As the new academic year began with a blend of classroom and online learning, it was the turn of our Higher Education graduates to receive their honours with a Virtual Graduation ceremony. The Class of 2020 included adult learners who are looking to progress or change career, have overcome significant health problems to achieve, or who have balanced significant family and work commitments to succeed in their studies.


October was a busy month, and I was absolutely honoured to be awarded a CBE for services to Further Education – helping to put the fantastic work and achievements of Nelson and Colne College Group on the national map.

Two stars from our Hairdressing department won awards in a national competition, colleagues at LAL celebrated Restart a Heart Day by delivering basic lifesaving skills training to 7,000 Lancashire schoolchildren via Zoom, and our alumni came together to help us celebrate Colleges Week.


I was delighted to see Lancashire Adult Learning’s innovative partnership with Lancashire Libraries winning a Highly Commended prize in the Festival of Learning Awards. This is national recognition for our partnership, which sees LAL teams deliver adult community learning in libraries across the county. Prior to the disruption caused by the pandemic, the 2018-19 academic year saw learning take place in 55 libraries, where 2,750 learners were supported through almost 550 courses.

Similarly, I was thrilled for Accrington and Rossendale College Carpentry and Joinery Apprentice Phillip Bentley who won a Highly Commended accolade in the national Institute of Carpenters’ Awards for a fantastic gothic wooden window frame.


And so here we are in December, with just one week to go until the festive break. I would like to take this opportunity to offer season’s greetings to readers and to wish you all a happy new year. I hope you are able to celebrate and make the best of the circumstances, with respect for the rules that are in place. Until 2021, stay safe. Amanda.

Free and flexible online courses launched to support adults and help them ‘take control’ this New Year…

Adult learners in Lancashire are being encouraged to ‘take control’ and make a positive start to 2021 by boosting their health and wellbeing, retraining, improving their digital skills and/or supporting their families.

The new courses, which start in January, are largely free, flexible and available online, and are delivered by Nelson and Colne College Group – made up of Lancashire Adult Learning, Nelson and Colne College and Accrington and Rossendale College.

Free courses offered by Lancashire Adult Learning range from Maths and English programmes to digital skills for everyday life, employability courses to support learners back into work, health and wellbeing programmes to de-stress, and courses to support children with their education.

There are also free Lancashire Adult Learning courses for leisure, including humanities, arts and crafts, and, as an exclusive offer during this time, for online languages courses too.

Other provision included in the Spring offer focuses on skills for industry, supporting career development or finding employment within specific sectors. These courses are largely free, or have fee remissions or loans available.

Those looking to develop their professional skills have opportunities in Construction, Health and Social Care, Education and Childcare, and Hair and Beauty. There are also a range of qualifications available through the Nelson and Colne College Group University Centre.

Assistant Principal for Adult Learning, Andrew Parkin, said: “We really have thought long and hard about our latest course offer, and we have carefully put together a package that we feel best supports the needs of adult learners right now across Lancashire.

“Reflective of the times we are in, we have made even more of our courses free of charge – including our renowned languages offer – and our courses are as accessible as they have ever been, with live online classrooms or flexible online learning to fit around the commitments of learners.

“Whatever your motivation for learning, the new year is a fresh start for everyone, and I’m thrilled that we have a comprehensive range of courses to support adult learners in the Red Rose County.”

Ayesha Shahid, 41, from Burnley, lost her business as a result of the pandemic, and took advantage of Lancashire Adult Learning’s Health and Social Care ‘Hub from Home’ programme over the summer months to rapidly retrain.

Ayesha, who has gained employment in the care sector off the back of completing her qualifications, said: “I’m very happy with my decision and I had brilliant support from the teaching team at LAL. It’s a personal challenge for me, and I love a challenge.

“I really think working in care that I can add value and make a significant difference to lives. I’m also looking at doing a degree in social work which I am looking forward to. I’m totally committed to my new career in care.”

Debbra Walley, 36, from Chorley, gained a job in the care sector after completing employability sessions with LAL.

She said: “I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Lancashire Adult Learning employability team for supporting me into paid employment and towards a more positive future for my family.

“Working in childcare has always been my objective, I just needed the right tools and support to get me there. To now have a job in that line of work is fantastic. It has also opened up more job prospects for me. I’ve always wanted to better myself and I have an ambition to become a Teaching Assistant.”

Nathan Andrews, 31, from Leyland, took control of his career by completing his Barbering qualifications at an evening course with Nelson and Colne College. Previously a window fitter, he decided he wanted a new challenge and is now employed at a leading Barbering shop with a strong reputation for quality.

Nathan said: “It has given me the career I want to do, and I find I have more free time outside of work now, so I have a better work life balance too. Working in the industry, I’m learning all the time and picking up new skills. I take pride in my work and I have an ambition to be the best around.”

Further information about all of the new range of courses for adults can be found on Lancashire Adult Learning’s website at

Enrolment can also be completed on the website, or by calling 0333 003 1717.

College Group partners with Department for Work and Pensions to deliver retraining scheme

Nelson and Colne College Group is helping the local community to retrain through an employment programme with the Department for Work and Pensions.

The Sector Based Work Academy Programme (SWAP) has been rolled out as a tool to train and recruit members of staff to non-teaching roles within the College Group, including classroom assistants and exam invigilators – with more than 70 people already applying since its launch in November.

SWAP, which is a key component of the UK Government’s £30bn Plan for Jobs, offers participants the chance to gain pre-employment training, alongside valuable work experience and a guaranteed job interview.

Those taking part will develop vital skills to give them the best opportunity in securing work with employers who have a number of vacancies, or operate across a growth sector.

Lancashire Adult Learning – part of Nelson and Colne College Group – has previously adopted the SWAP format, in partnership with DWP, to support large employers including Morrisons and Greggs with the training of individuals in their recruitment process, particularly where there have been a number of vacancies to fill.

Delivery of SWAP has been adapted to a digital format in recent months to take into account COVID-19 restrictions, meaning participants can receive learning in the safety and comfort of their own homes or in a COVID-secure learning environment.

Nicola Hall, Executive Head of Curriculum for Innovation and Partnerships at Nelson and Colne College Group, said: “In response to the pandemic and its effects on the employment market, we wanted to act to support the communities in which we operate by offering places onto our SWAP, leading to potential employment thereafter with the College Group.

“I’m thrilled that through our partnership with DWP, we have been able to respond rapidly to get this programme up and running, to support Jobcentre customers with employability skills and vital experience and progress them into a number of vacancies within the College Group, or towards the employment market.

“The exciting opportunity with the SWAP format is that they can be adapted to a wide range of non-teaching roles, including catering, cleaning and administrative roles, to name just a few, meaning there is scope for further development across the College Group.”

Cathy Ross, an Employer Adviser Manager for the Department, said: “Our relationship with Nelson and Colne College Group continues to flourish. We have successfully partnered with its Lancashire Adult Learning arm on a number of recent projects to support local residents into work and promote local economic recovery.

“We’re now supporting the wider Nelson and Colne College Group with the SWAP format to help them fill a number of exam invigilator and teaching assistant posts. To have 70 individuals already embrace this opportunity is a fantastic start, and we are very excited to have the College Group on board as both a delivery partner and key local employer with a range of vacancies across the education sector in non-teaching roles.”

For more information on Nelson and Colne College Group, please visit

Anybody interested in joining Nelson and Colne College Group as the next step in their career can visit

Four new members add value and strength after appointment to Board of Corporation at Nelson and Colne College Group

Four new members have joined Nelson and Colne College Group’s Board of Corporation, bringing additional professional strength and strategic skills to the growing operation.

After a successful recruitment process, the quartet of Neil Hart, Liz Sedgley, Zulfi Khan and Julie Turner have been appointed, and they bring to the College Group’s governance a wealth of experience, skills and expertise from a range of industry sectors.

Nelson and Colne College Group – which incorporates Nelson and Colne College, Accrington and Rossendale College and Lancashire Adult Learning – is one of the highest performing College Groups nationally across a range of academic measures, and offers exceptional skills, vocational and occupational training, as well as sixth form and adult community provision across East Lancashire and beyond.

The four new Board members join others drawn from a variety of industries and backgrounds, as well as staff and student governors.

As Chief Executive Officer of Burnley Football Club, Neil Hart is the senior leader responsible for the Premier League club’s finances, supporter engagement, commercial opportunities, staff and facilities.

Previously Head of Burnley Football in the Community (BFCitC) – a key partner and supporter of the College Group – Neil knows the College Group organisation and was instrumental in developing a strong and close partnership work between BFitC and the College. This includes established programmes such as the flagship Shadow Youth Team for talented players aged 16-18, plus more recent developments including Apprenticeships, traineeships and employability courses for adult learners.

Liz Sedgley is a Fellow of the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants in England and Wales. For the last 20 years Liz has run a successful management consultancy providing accountancy and strategic finance support to public sector organisations and businesses in sectors as diverse as construction, chemical sales, communications and web-based retail.

Currently a non-Executive Director and the Deputy Chair of University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, Liz was also previously a non-Executive Director and the Audit Chair of East Lancashire Hospitals Trust.

Zulfi Khan is a previous A Level student of Nelson and Colne College, and a qualified solicitor of England and Wales. He is a partner of Ten Legal, an established, successful and growing practice in Bury.

Zulfi has also maintained strong links with his local community in Pendle, and is a volunteer for Whitefield Youth Association, a local charity based in Nelson, engaging with young people aged between three and 15, to transform young lives through social action – improving young people’s life chances and opportunities.

Completing the quartet is Julie Turner, who also has ties to the College Group as her children were educated at Nelson and Colne College. Professionally, Julie has over 25 years’ experience in education – including as Deputy Headteacher at the Hollins School in Accrington, and as a Further Education and Higher Education lecturer and programme leader.

As a freelance educational consultant, she specialises in leadership, school development, improving teaching and learning, professional development and literacy – mainly working with schools to improve standards and opportunities for their young people, as well as being an English for Academic Purposes (EAP) Tutor at the University of Manchester.

Chairman of the Board of Corporation at Nelson and Colne College Group, Stephen Barnes, said: “I am thrilled with our four new appointments and I would like to welcome Neil, Liz, Zulfi and Julie to the Board of Corporation. Between them, they have an extremely strong skillset and a real depth of experience and will add immense value to our strategic decision making.

“Our Board of Corporation is steadfast in its commitment to improving the lives of people through the highest quality education, and that has never been more important than now in the challenging period of time that we all find ourselves in.

“We look forward to working together to continue to deliver the highest quality  provision that meets and adapts to national and local skills priorities as they emerge, as well as continuing to support economic prosperity across our local communities and Lancashire.”

The Board of Corporation is made up of members from business, professional, public sector and community backgrounds. College Governors have adopted the Nolan’s seven principles of public life (selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership) in carrying out their responsibilities.

For further information about governance at Nelson and Colne College Group, please visit