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

Leadership and Management Apprentice praises qualification for boosting his confidence and career progression

A Leadership and Management Apprentice has praised the qualification he is about to complete for giving him the confidence and career progression he was seeking.

Yasin Bux, 36, from Preston, is a Parking and Enforcement Officer Team Leader at Lancashire County Council, and is about to complete his Level 3 Leadership and Management Apprenticeship with Nelson and Colne College Group ahead of schedule.

Based at the County Council’s Highways Department’s Cuerden depot, Yasin has made a significant impact on the performance of the Highways and Transport Team through the knowledge and skills he has developed during his Apprenticeship.

One of the key areas of work Yasin has played a crucial role in is the issuing of parking permits, helping to resolve a series of software issues with a contractor to enable smoother online payment for permits, renewal of permits online and the upload system for providing evidence for a permit.

His work has meant the County Council has recently been able to bring ‘in house’ the production of permits for 9,000 residents from six district councils that previously issued permits on the County Council’s behalf. This decision and greater efficiencies have resulted in a six-figure saving and an approximate 750 hours of administration time annually.

Yasin is also playing an instrumental role in a printing project to reduce the cost of issuing parking ticket and bus lane enforcement letters – which will achieve a saving of tens of thousands of pounds annually – and going forward, a new software system is being introduced by the County Council in 2021 around the processing of parking tickets, a project in which Yasin is playing an integral role with writing training manuals for colleagues.

Yasin, a former student of Christ the King Catholic High School in Preston, said: “I decided to begin my Apprenticeship as I needed a challenge and saw the qualification as a way to improve my chances of promotion. It was also an opportunity to gain a qualification that is relevant to the work I am doing now.

“I’m thoroughly enjoying my Apprenticeship, and I have covered problem solving, leadership, communication, self-awareness, self-management, finance, project management and more. I love putting the theory I’m learning into practice and I’m constantly trying new things out on the team.

“The Apprenticeship has also given me the confidence and motivation to keep progressing into a more senior management position, and I definitely will work towards achieving further Leadership and Management qualifications at higher levels in the future.”

Yasin’s manager Mandy White, who is Senior Parking and Enforcement Officer at Lancashire County Council, said: “Since commencing his Leadership and Management Apprenticeship, Yasin has become so much more confident in his abilities and his progress and the positive impact he continues to have on the way we operate.

“I have no doubt Yasin is destined to progress to upper echelons of management in due course, and I consider myself very lucky to have him as one of my team leaders – hopefully for some time to come.”

Yasin’s Trainer Assessor Julie Garrigan, who is Programme Leader for Leadership and Management Apprenticeships at Nelson and Colne College Group, said: “Since I started working as Yasin’s Trainer Assessor, I have found that he is a totally committed and professional member of his team at Lancashire County Council.

“He is very articulate and is well-respected by his peers. His manager has testified on his leadership and management qualities, and his communication and operational management skills, which have developed considerably through the duration of the Apprenticeship.”

Nelson and Colne College Group offers a wide range of support of Apprenticeships and Training to employers and is currently offering employers across Lancashire and the wider North West region an incentive payment if they hire an Apprentice before 31 January next year.

Any employer that hires a new young Apprentice aged 16-24 prior to that date will receive £2,000, while those that hire new Apprentices aged 25 and over will be paid £1,500.

It means that employers could receive up to £3,000 in total for hiring new 16-18-year-old Apprentices during the incentive scheme, as the funding is in addition to the existing £1,000 incentive the Government already provides for new 16-18-year-old Apprentices, and those aged under-25 with an education, health and care plan.

For more information on Apprenticeships by Nelson and Colne College Group, please visit or call 01282 440319.

Principal champions change as College Commission publishes report on future of Further Education in England

Nelson and Colne College Group’s Principal and CEO is leading the calls for the role of colleges in England to change ahead of the Government’s imminent publishing of a Further Education White Paper.

After sharing its UK-wide recommendations in October, the Independent Commission on the College of the Future this week published the first of its nations-specific reports for England.

Amanda Melton CBE – who sits on the Commission as the sole Commissioner for all College Principals in England – has said it is time the Government invests in colleges as “essential public assets to build skills in England in the short and longer term”.

The Commission is calling for the change to allow colleges in England to provide an even greater range of opportunities for young people and adult learners to enable them to reach their full potential.

It is also seeking to enhance the support colleges can offer to best meet the needs of businesses facing enormous change and challenges, including recovery from the ongoing crisis as well as the urgent need to move to a green economy.

The Future of the English College report includes six key recommendations, and these are:

  1. Introducing a legal duty on colleges to establish networks across appropriate economic geographies, which must be matched by a duty on all other post-16 education providers;
  2. Forming a cross-departmental ministerial taskforce or body to oversee a new UK Government 10-year strategy for education and skills to drive the industrial strategy and other priorities;
  3. Funding colleges to deliver specialised and targeted business support, creating employer ‘hubs’ in key sectors and occupational pathways, especially in digital, construction, engineering and health and social care;
  4. Creating a statutory right to lifelong learning by making lifelong learning accessible and financially viable to all through offering equal loans and grants across Further Education and Higher Education;
  5. Investing in colleges through three-year grant settlements to give colleges the confidence and funding to deliver strategically for people, productivity and place in the economic rebuild;
  6. Streamlining regulation, accountability and the funding system to reduce bureaucracy and to ensure that the system focuses on the mission, purpose and outcomes of colleges. 

Amanda said: “Colleges provide skills and training to local people, employers and communities, often in a challenging and continually changing policy and fiscal environment.

“It is essential that the Government invests in colleges as essential public assets, and builds a new relationship as strategic and trusted partners, securing relevant high-quality learning over all our lives, building the skills England needs in the short and longer term.

“The anticipated FE White Paper will be a vehicle to drive the fundamental systems change needed. But colleges should take a lead role in delivering the transformation required, in the context of the vision for the future and outlined Government reforms.

“This report is a rallying call for colleges. I know we share a collective ambition for the expanded role colleges can and must play in our society and economy. This will require real cultural shifts within the college sector to achieve the Commission’s vision for a collaborative college sector for the future.

“Colleges will then successfully adopt their lead role as lynchpin of a coherent, connected education and skills system that delivers for our communities and economy.”

To read the full report on the English College of the Future, please visit the College Commission website at:

For more information on Nelson and Colne College Group, please visit or call 01282 440200.

Lifelong learning is a central theme of the College of the Future

Last week, Nelson and Colne and Colne College Group – including Lancashire Adult Learning – marked Lifelong Learning Week, an annual celebration of the value of learning at all stages of life.

It was an inspiring week, and we shared heart-warming stories on our social media channels of adult learners who we have supported to upskill for a new career, helped improve their health and wellbeing, and given them the essential digital skills needed to enable them to stay better connected in the world of laptops, smartphones and tablets.

Lifelong learning is also a central theme to the final report which has just been published by the Independent Commission on the College of the Future, for which I am the Commissioner for all colleges in England.

The report recommends radical, long-term adult learning reforms, as well as investment, to address current and future skills gaps and also to transform life chances for every adult.

It calls for every adult to have the right to lifetime education and training, with colleges better supported to deliver this in every community across the UK. There are few, if any, more important places in the UK where this needs to happen than here in East Lancashire.

Recent research from the CBI found that nine in 10 people will need new skills by 2030 to support the future economy, and that further and faster action is needed. With the consequences of Covid-19, leaving the EU, climate change and the fourth industrial revolution changing the employment landscape, everyone will need access to part-time, adult and vocational education as the economy and jobs change – and we don’t want Lancashire’s adult learners to be left behind.

For a number of years now, the wonderful team at Lancashire Adult Learning – and the wider College Group – have been working hard to support the ambitions and aspirations of our county’s adult learners.

Very recently, we refreshed our adult learning offer to support adults across the county during this unusual time, with a wide range of free online and flexible courses. As we find ourselves in a second lockdown, new courses starting this month can enhance the employment prospects of individuals, help support their family, improve their health and wellbeing, develop their digital skills or simply develop a hobby. I would encourage readers to visit the Lancashire Adult Learning website at or our social media pages to find out more.

With a UK-wide approach to adult learning following the publication of the Commission report and its recommendations, I really hope that we can make real progress in providing access to lifelong learning to support individuals, towns and the wider economy. Lifelong learning is a vitally important but hitherto neglected component of our education system. I hope very soon I will be able to provide you with a positive update on its place in our UK skills system when the Government publishes its white paper on Further Education in the near future.

Until next month, Amanda.

New free offer of adult courses launched by Lancashire Adult Learning to meet needs of learners at this time

Lancashire Adult Learning has launched a new range of free courses designed to meet the needs of learners across the Red Rose County in the current climate.

Adult learners who are seeking to enhance their employment prospects, support their family, improve their health and wellbeing, or simply develop a hobby, can do so from the comfort of their own home.

Beginning in November, the new offer is largely available online – or flexibly to suit individual needs – and the courses have been developed being mindful of the unprecedented and challenging period of time Lancashire and its adult learners are facing this Autumn.

Courses include free employability sessions to support learners back into work, through 1:1 support on perfecting online job applications, CV development and interview preparation.

Complementing this are free Functional Skills qualifications in English, Maths and ICT, and these can be achieved in just 10 weeks on a new fast-track course designed so learners who require these valuable qualifications can achieve at home, and progress more quickly.

Essential digital skills for everyday life are a highlight feature of the new offer too, enabling learners to get to grips with an ever more digitally focused environment of laptops, tablets and smartphones.

Health and wellbeing programmes to relax, de-stress and remain positive – of paramount importance in the current climate – are included, and courses to support families and their children’s education is another area that is covered, helping parents make up for lost time with courses such as Catch Up English and Maths.

Completing LAL’s new offer are the ever-popular leisure courses, including a range of festive crafts, languages, and essential skills courses such as First Aid sessions.

Other courses for adults beginning in November are delivered by Lancashire Adult Learning’s sister colleges – Nelson and Colne College and Accrington and Rossendale College – which together form Nelson and Colne College Group.

These are more focused on skills for industry, helping learners with career development or finding employment within specific sectors such as Construction, Health and Social Care, Education and Childcare, and Hair and Beauty.

Andrew Parkin, Assistant Principal for Adult Learning at Nelson and Colne College Group, said: “Whatever the motivation for returning to learning, there has never been a better time to focus on you in the challenging times we are all experiencing.

“The range of provision beginning in November is extensive, to meet the demands of an ever-changing employment landscape, lifestyle in the digital age, family support in an chapter of increased home schooling, and health and wellbeing courses to de-stress and relax in times of uncertainty.

“The vast majority of our courses are free and are available online or flexibly, and whichever programme you choose, there will be a range of resources, tutorials and 1:1 support available to help you along the way.”

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

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

Alumni come together to support Nelson and Colne College Group’s Colleges Week celebrations

Virtual learning and social distancing failed to dampen Nelson and Colne College Group’s annual Colleges Week celebrations, as alumni came together to show their support for Further Education.

Coordinated by the Association of Colleges, Colleges Week is an annual opportunity for Further Education colleges to put the brilliant work that they do day in and day out under the spotlight – building communities, boosting businesses and supporting individuals.

Alumni from the College Group – incorporating Nelson and Colne College, Accrington and Rossendale College and Lancashire Adult Learning – were keen to recognise the role Further Education has played in their lives as they joined up to help create an inspiring video that showcased the wide range of careers that former students of the College Group go on to enjoy.

This year’s theme focused on the central role that colleges will play in rebuilding the economy post-Brexit and through COVID-19, by strengthening communities and supporting people through some of the toughest challenges we have faced.

The great work carried out during the pandemic across the College Group was celebrated during the week, and this included former students now on the frontline of the NHS, a PPE donation to East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, and support for local foodbanks during the pandemic.

Employer partnerships, support for a wide range of economic sectors, and how the College Group is supporting innovation and developments in the Further Education sector were other highlights of the week.

Principal of Nelson and Colne College Group Amanda Melton CBE said: “Colleges Week is one of my favourite weeks of the year and I’m thrilled that we have been able to showcase the wonderful work that goes on right across Nelson and Colne College Group.

“With the ongoing pandemic, Brexit looming, and a recession, Further Education colleges will have an essential role to play in skills development and the creation of sustainable careers in the future, and it is vital that we are there to support our people, places and businesses.

“I’m also determined to use this week as a catalyst for securing a fair funding settlement for Further Education which has been neglected for far too long – funding which would enable us to invest in our staff to support the ambitions of our young people, the skills development in our adult learners, and create a thriving local and regional economy together with employer partners.”

Former Lancashire Adult Learning star Sue Bottomley was one of the alumni to appear in the showcase video. Sue, from Whalley, completed her Level 2 Functional Skills Maths qualification with LAL in 2018 which enabled her to change career to become a firefighter after 20 years in the airline industry.

Sue said: “It was a pleasure to be invited to be part of the video and it just shows the power of colleges and what achievements can lead on to.

“I’m really grateful that LAL was able to support me to change my career and I remember enjoying the learning as well having hated Maths at school.

“I absolutely love my new career as a firefighter. I’ve just been on a training weekend in Scotland and it was brilliant – I’ve definitely not looked back since making my decision.”

Current students from Nelson and Colne College and Accrington and Rossendale College were happy to share why they love their College, and the passion that they have for their chosen subjects.

Laraib Ayoub, 17, from Nelson, is studying Health and Social Care at Nelson and Colne College. The former Pendle Vale College student said: “I absolutely love College and learning on my Health and Social Care course. The standard of teaching I receive is excellent and I am very well supported in my studies.

“I have wanted to do Health and Social Care from a young age, and it is the health side of the subject that interests me. I want to go and study nursing and I would love to be able to make a difference to people’s lives every day.”

Dominic Milligan, 18, from Accrington, is Level 3 Bricklaying Apprentice at Accrington and Rossendale College. A former student of St Christopher’s High School, Dominic said: “My interest in bricklaying comes from helping my uncle with his building business at weekends when I was at school – and he is now my boss. He suggested the College to me as it is local, and also the best in the area for learning the trade.

“I’m really enjoying my Apprenticeship – I’m learning a skill that would enable me to set up on my own in the future, or potentially take over the business down the line. My tutors in College are fantastic and I can now do advanced brickwork. I love working in the building trade – we mainly construct extensions on houses – and there is no better satisfaction than finishing a job.”

For more information about Nelson and Colne College, please visit, and for Accrington and Rossendale College, please visit To apply, or for application support, contact the Admissions Team at or call 01282 440272.

Lancashire Adult Learning is the second largest adult community learning provider in the country, offering a wide range of courses to learners across the Red Rose County. Visit or call 0333 003 1717 for more information.

Showcasing the great work of Further Education this Colleges Week

I’ll begin this month’s column with a thank you to everybody who has sent me a congratulatory message following the announcement of my CBE award in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List last weekend.

I really appreciated the response from people nationally, regionally or locally. I’m so proud to lead a group of Colleges that is so intrinsically linked to the fortunes of the people and communities that it serves, and the employers and economy it supports.

I’m a passionate advocate of Further Education Colleges, and the transformative impact they can have on towns everywhere, and I’m hugely ambitious for what Colleges can do for people and businesses when times are challenging, as they are right now.

Championing the great work of colleges brings me neatly onto one of the key events in the diary of our group of Colleges – Nelson and Colne College, Accrington and Rossendale College and Lancashire Adult Learning – and that is Colleges Week, an annual week of events to celebrate the impact of Further Education Colleges nationally.

Beginning on Monday, Nelson and Colne College Group will be fully supporting the campaign which celebrates the great work that colleges do and fights for fair funding for the sector, to invest in staff, students and resources.

This year’s theme recognises how colleges help build communities, boost businesses, and support individuals. The fundamental way in which colleges have responded to the challenges thrown up by the COVID-19 pandemic means that there will be even more inspiring and impressive stories to share this year, and there is a determination to make this the biggest and best Colleges Week yet.

It is a fantastic chance to share the superhuman efforts my colleagues have delivered this year in providing high quality teaching, learning and support for students and businesses both in college buildings, in the community and through live online lessons.  I’m really looking forward to this special showcase that puts the truly brilliant work of colleges into the spotlight.

To keep up to date with everything that is going on, you can follow our social media activity through our channels on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

If you are a member of the College Group’s alumni network or you are an employer that has benefited from a positive experience with us, then we would love to hear from you too.

You can get involved in sharing your own stories of how the College Group has supported you by tagging us in a post and using the hashtags #CollegesWeek and #LoveOurColleges.

I hope you will see some of the positive impact we can accomplish together to overcome some of the present difficulties we all share.

Until next month, Amanda.

Principal Amanda Melton awarded CBE in Queen’s Birthday Honours List

Principal and Chief Executive of Nelson and Colne College Group Amanda Melton has been awarded a prestigious CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for her services to education.

Amanda was appointed Principal and Chief Executive of Nelson and Colne College in March 2012, and the CBE honour means she has received the highest of the Orders of the British Empire.

Her nomination went through a rigorous selection process, and Amanda was chosen for her outstanding contribution to education across a quarter of a century and the ambition she has for Further Education nationally.

The accolade has helped put the Lancashire region on the map, and has established Nelson and Colne College Group as a beacon of educational excellence on a national scale. Under her stewardship of the College Group, students have achieved outstanding outcomes, strong community relationships have been created and valuable industry links developed – to the benefit of both individuals and organisations – and teaching teams have been enhanced to be at the pinnacle of teaching and training performance.

Through her role on the Independent Commission on the College of the Future, she has made a huge difference to the Further Education sector in shaping its direction for years to come.

More recently, Amanda has been appointed as one of 11 National Leaders of Further Education to provide mentoring and support to other FE Colleges with an ambition to improve. She has also worked collaboratively with the Education and Training Foundation and Oxford Saïd Business School to create a talent pool of high performing Principals of the future.

Regionally, Amanda is a Director at the Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP Champion for Skills and Technical Education), and Chair of the Lancashire LEP Skills Advisory Panel.

Since her arrival at Nelson and Colne College eight years ago, Amanda has also successfully steered the college through two mergers – the first with Lancashire Adult Learning in 2016, and then Accrington and Rossendale College in 2018 – the latter being the catalyst for forming Nelson and Colne College Group.

The College Group is a beacon for educational excellence, delivering A Levels, technical and vocational training up to degree level, Apprenticeships, and a wide range of adult programmes.

In 2013, Amanda led the creation of the Pendle Education Trust, a multi-academy trust initially set up to address the particular needs of poor-performing schools. The Trust is currently responsible for five academies, of which three have already improved by two Ofsted grades since transferring to the Trust.

Amanda Melton CBE said: “I’ve had the complete privilege to work in FE colleges for 26 years and counting. I can’t think of a sector which makes a greater difference for people, places and skills. I owe this honour directly to the roles I’ve had, to shout out for FE, most importantly the College of the Future Commission.

“The career highlight each year comes in August when we see our students, who have grown into mature young adults, achieve outstanding results and progress on to leading universities, Apprenticeships and employment opportunities and enjoy exceptional careers thereafter.

“My biggest fan, my lovely dad, died three years ago. He’d have been completely blown away that his little girl was honoured in this way. Thanks to my family and colleagues at Nelson and Colne College Group for giving me the opportunity to get involved in highlighting our transformational sector as part of a wider education ecosystem.”

Nelson and Colne College is the number one FE College nationally for A Level progress, and has been in the top three colleges nationally for GCSE Maths and English progress for three consecutive years.

Following the successful merger with Nelson and Colne College, Accrington and Rossendale is on journey towards becoming an extraordinary college. It is now one of the top five colleges nationally for classroom learner achievement, at all ages and levels, and is also the top college in Lancashire for 16-18 timely Apprenticeship achievement.

Lancashire Adult Learning is the second largest adult community learning provider in the country, and each year achieves outstanding achievement rates through its broad range of courses for adults right across Lancashire’s 12 districts.

For more information about 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

Rising to the challenge as colleges get back to business

We returned to College for the new academic year knowing that it was going to be a challenging term as we balanced important pandemic safety protocols with the essential move of getting our students back into a classroom environment.

Planning for a COVID-safe return at Nelson and Colne College Group consumed a lot of time over the summer months, however, I have also been busy working with colleagues across the UK with the Independent Commission on the College of the Future as England’s Principal representative.

I was delighted to put my name down in support of a new report published last week on colleges working with the NHS to assist easing its workforce difficulties – a collaboration between the Commission and the NHS Confederation.

Recent months have been painful for our country during this pandemic. Yet we have been reminded just what a wonderful asset the NHS is as it rose to meet the challenge of COVID-19, and we saw College students and staff volunteering for the NHS and in care homes to support their communities.

For the NHS to continue to serve us in our hour of need, further investment is required. If the Government is going to tackle the significant workforce challenges across the NHS and social care – there are around 90,000 NHS vacancies, on top of more than 120,000 in social care – colleges need funding in order to support this.

The new report calls for “employer hubs” to be set up across England to bring together local NHS organisations, including hospitals and general practices, with their local Further Education colleges to collaborate on courses and a pipeline for the local recruitment of health and care staff across a range of professions.

We at Nelson and Colne College Group enjoy a deep and long-standing relationship with East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, and we already support them in a number of innovative ways. However, it is not like that everywhere, and there is scope for growth and development.

The proposed hubs would focus on supporting local people to enter or progress careers in health and care, including through recruitment, upskilling and retraining, and in doing so, tackle local workforce shortages, which can vary considerably across the country.

In the joint publication, we call on the Government to:

  • Invest £5million over two years to pilot employer hubs in each of the seven NHS regions in England to help NHS and care organisations’ recruitment and training
  • Support the creation of a Health and Care College Council in England, with £2million funding over three years to create a national council to promote, develop and embed the essential contribution of colleges in education and training pipelines in England, and
  • Embed the role of colleges in the local delivery of the national NHS People Plan, which was published in July

The role and contribution of colleges within the education and skills system, and specifically in the minds of large employers such as the NHS is all too often poorly understood. With these recommendations, we have an opportunity to unlock their potential to develop strong and sustainable pathways into NHS careers for local people using tangible steps.

We at the Commission are looking forward to continuing to work with the UK Government as they set out their plans for Further Education in England with a White Paper later this year – I’ll keep you informed of its progress.

Until next month, Amanda.