The official incorporation of the first FE college in more than 20 years has been heralded by Skills Minister Matthew Hancock.

Mr Hancock confirmed FE Week exclusives dating back to July last year when he announced on Wednesday (April 30) that Prospects College of Advanced Technology had officially been given permission to incorporate.

The venture by Essex-based charity Prospects Learning Foundation comes after a month-long consultation (document pictured right) earlier this year.

Neil Bates

Neil Bates

Mr Hancock said: “Since the incorporation of FE colleges over 20 years ago, no new colleges have been formed. Yet new colleges can offer greater choice to students, drive up standards, and be more responsive to the needs of employers, responding to skills shortages.

“Consistent with our support for free schools for those of school age, the government strongly supports the establishment of new colleges, allowing
the entry of new organisations that drive up quality, customer focus and responsiveness of the FE sector.

“For the first time, we today set out formally our intention to establish Prospects College of Advanced Technology as a new FE corporation.”

He added: “Prospects College of Advanced Technology is being established to deliver a unique new employer-focused, specialist technical college of further education in the south Essex Thames gateway. It will have three specialist apprentice skills training centres for engineering (including rail), building services and aviation and a post-16 campus.

“At the time it is fully operational it will deliver provision to 800 full time and 350 part time learners, 1,200 apprentices and 2,500 delegates on short corporate courses all aged 16+.

“A full public consultation has taken place, responses were received from 41 individuals representing 26 organisations and no responses opposed the proposal to open the new college. I wish this new college every success and hope it will be the first of many.”

Prospects Learning Foundation chief executive Neil Bates told FE Week: “We are delighted that the minister has approved our application.

“The consultation resulted in overwhelming support from employers and employer organisations, local authorities, Members of Parliament and students.

“The minister will open the new college in September. This will include the opening of a new railway engineering academy where the majority of funding for this new facility is coming from major employers in the rail sector.

“Our ambition is to be outstanding within three years and to have 1,000 advanced and higher technician apprentices at the college supporting key sectors of the economy.”