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National campaign highlights the positive impact and importance that colleges have on the country

News overview

Suffolk New College is backing a national campaign that is taking place this week that aims to highlight the positive impact of colleges.

AOC Colleges Week

Colleges Week (26 Feb to 1 March 2024) was set up by the Association of Colleges in 2018 and sets about creating awareness of the value that these institutions have to their communities.

As part of this, Suffolk New College – that has campuses in Halesworth, Ipswich, Leiston and Otley – teamed up with the other four major players from the region to write a letter to MPs.

In this correspondence, the leaders of City College Norwich, Suffolk New College, College of West Anglia, East Coast College and Eastern Education Group, made a case and called for the pace of investment in skills to be speeded up.

Ahead of the spring budget, they suggested that extra money that could be raised from an immigration skills charge to enable colleges to tackle the urgent priorities identified by employers in the local skills improvement plans (LSIPs) and tackle the increased number of skills shortage vacancies.

They also suggested that investment was made to close the pay gap between school teachers and college lecturers.

Alan Pease, Principal and Chief Executive Officer at Suffolk New College, commented:

“Suffolk New College works collaboratively with a wide range of employers across many sectors, through its Industry Partner Programme. College leaders and employer partners are in agreement that significant investment is needed to tackle key skills gaps in our region, as outlined in last year’s Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP). We are therefore joining forces with the four other colleges in the New Anglia region, and their similarly vast employer networks, to urge the Treasury to commit to a greater investment in the sector that will allow colleges to unlock the potential to deliver on the skills initiative, support employer workforce demands and ensure we are meeting the needs of the communities that we serve.”

In addition to this, Alan was one of a small number of leaders representing the best of the further education sector to receive an invite to a celebration of Skills Education at Number 10 Downing Street. The occasion was hosted by Lord Lingfield.

Also this week, Suffolk New College is involved in a variety of activities to help demonstrate the impact and diversity of issues they are involved in every week.

This week, plans to create an anti-knife crime charity sports match later this month will take place, an open event for the public in Ipswich is happening to help showcase the range of opportunities that the college has to offer and a team from catering and hospitality are showcasing their talents in the kitchen ahead of being involved in a national campaign.

learners with AOC promotional sign for Colleges week

The college also won The Inenco Award for Education for Sustainable Development at this year’s Association of College’s Beacon Awards that have been referred to as the Oscars for the further education sector.

Suffolk New College Winners Certificate

Head of marketing at Suffolk New College Craig Shimmon said: “As a former lecturer (at Suffolk New College), I’ve seen first-hand the value that colleges can bring to both individuals and communities.

“We currently support around 5000 learners on a variety of programmes from leisure options all the way through to degrees and we are proud to support people of all ages and help them progress.

Alam henson with Emily Robbins winning her floristry award

“For example, last year we helped a grandmother of 74 pass her GCSEs and we also helped one of our learners scoop a national floristry award.

Anne Blowers with GCSE certificates

“We also work with hundreds of businesses and our message to the community is come and work with us – not just during Colleges Week but all year round.”

Suffolk New College received the FE Provider of the Year prize at the inaugural EADT education awards in 2023.

Posted 29 February 2024