Scores of colleges ‘interested’ in career college opportunities

More than 40 colleges have expressed an interest in opening a Career College since proposals for the new form of 14 to 19 education institutions were put forward in October, FE Week can reveal.

Career Colleges Trust chief executive Ruth Gilbert (pictured) said she had been approached by colleges and also employers about setting up the specialist vocational education colleges.

Ms Gilbert said: “We have had more than 60 individual enquiries from organisations interested in opening Career Colleges — two thirds instigated by FE colleges, and many by employers.”

She declined to say who she had been approached by, but the list of those due to open in time for September is expected to be announced by the trust on June 9.

“They have to meet the standards we’ve set out in terms of engagement with employers and clear, employer-led career pathways,” said Ms Gilbert.

“As well as speaking to Ofsted, we’re also looking at local demand and the facilities the college has available.

“At the end of the day we won’t compromise on quality and we would rather delay to get the right college than open where it’s not.”

When former Conservative Education Secretary Lord Baker proposed Career Colleges in October, general FE colleges in Oldham, Bromley, Oxford and Lambeth expressed an interest.

Oldham College may postpone the opening its proposed creative industries Career College as its £9m purpose-built centre may not be ready for September, but a spokesperson said the college was “working closely” with the trust.

Ms Gilbert said the trust would “not accept students being housed in temporary accommodation”.

Lambeth College’s grade three Ofsted rating has scuppered its plans as currently only one or two-rated colleges can recruit students from 14, but a spokesperson said the college was “still keen” and was “on course for a good inspection in the autumn”.

Bromley College director of corporate development Lynn Barratt confirmed the college hoped to open a food, hospitality and enterprise centre for this September while City of Oxford College confirmed it was delaying its construction Career College until September next year.