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Cornwall College forced to cancel courses

Cornwall College forced to cancel courses

Published by Local Democracy Reporter Richard Whitehouse, local democracy reporter. at 4:31pm 16th August 2019. (Updated at 5:07pm 16th August 2019)


Cornwall College Group has apologised after being forced to cancel some courses because it could no longer access funding.

The college runs a number of courses for 14 to 16 year olds at its various campuses in the county.

These are courses which are aimed at children who are unable to attend mainstream school or have special educational needs (SEN).

However the college was recently inspected by Ofsted and was given a rating of “requires improvement”.

As a result it is no longer able to access funding from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) for 14-16 year olds. This funding is only available to colleges which are rated “good” or “outstanding”.

The cancellations only affect those students aged 14-16 starting courses in September who had applied directly to the college and were being funded through the ESFA. All those who have been referred to the college through schools or local authorities will still be able to attend.

Students who have already started courses will also be able to complete their courses.

Parents in Cornwall and Devon had already received letters from the college to say their children would be starting on courses in September, but then received a second letter this week informing them that the courses had been scrapped.

Alison Middleton from Bideford said that her son was due to start an animal care course at Duchy College in September.

 “Two weeks ago we received a letter which gave us a start date, this week we received a letter saying due to funding the course had been cancelled.

“Our son has ADHD and we have spent the last six months fighting for his place at Duchy. We now have a teenager who has been failed by the education system.”

Another mum Amy Tonks said: 

"We were living in Staffs and we are moving to Budleigh Salterton and had all packed up when we found out the course was cancelled.
“My son is 15. He had a placement to start at Bicton College in September. He wanted to study animals and go into a career in it.

“We are devastated. We have moved from Staffordshire to Budleigh for my son to attend Bicton.

“I was meant to be going to Bicton as well – I was going to do an Access to Nursing course but now it’s all up in the air. I cannot commit to my nursing course until I know what’s happening. We were already all packed up and moving house when this happened.

“All of the families involved feel like we are being fobbed off left right and centre by people who don’t seem to understand that we have got children who have often had bad experiences in mainstream education.

“Because it’s the summer holidays we cannot get anybody to help."

In a statement Cornwall College apologised for the cancellations:

“Our college primarily offers courses for students from aged 16 onwards.  Each year we have a few students who study with us, referred by local agencies who are under 16 years of age.

“This academic year, we are able to take 14 – 16 year old students who are funded by their school or the local authority.  We are no longer able to accept new direct applications for students aged under 16, due to current funding guidelines and our recent Ofsted inspection.

“Following discussions with our funders and local agencies, we have written to all 14-16 applicants to apologise and express our disappointment for this change.  We are directing parents/carers to the local authority or to their school to discuss their options.

“Students that are part-way through a course, aged 14-16 will return to complete their studies with us; we will also continue to take students who are enrolled at school and who study part of their course with us through our School Links programme.”

In a statement Cornwall Council said:

“The funding for pre-16 education at Cornwall College is provided by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) and not Cornwall Council. The terms and conditions of this funding dictate that it is only available to colleges with a good or outstanding Ofsted rating.

"The Cornwall College Group were rated as requiring improvement in June this year.  

"We have been in discussions with them and are saddened to hear of the decision to close these courses.  We will now offer support to the families and the young people involved to explore other options that are available.”

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