Education leaders are calling on the community to give their views on plans for a ‘once-in-a-generation’ opportunity to transform the education landscape in Barrow.
Furness College and the University of Cumbria are working in partnership to develop the idea for an innovative Barrow Learning Quarter.
The project would include a Skills Hub, a new university campus and an Institute of Technology and is one of seven projects shortlisted to go forward to bid for a share of £25m under the Government’s Town Deal initiative.
Furness College Principal and Chief Executive Andrew Wren and University of Cumbria Vice Chancellor Julie Mennell said the scheme formed a compelling project in the heart of the town and urged people to give their views on the www.brilliantbarrow.org.uk website.
“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to further transform education in Barrow and we urge everyone to back it,” said Mr Wren. “The Skills Hub development will be unique in Cumbria. It will complement the first-class facilities at Furness College’s Channelside campus, which offers technical and professional courses up to degree level. It will be an innovative addition to education across the area and ensure our students are ready to support the high level skills needs of our local businesses.”
Professor Mennell said the Barrow Learning Quarter project would build on the university’s existing collaboration with partners, including the college, BAE Systems and Lancaster University.
“Working with these partners, the Learning Quarter will provide inspirational space and opportunities for learning comprising a university centre, college skills academy and a multi-partner Institute of Technology. Working in this way, we will build progression routes and extend the wider higher education offer in Barrow. In doing so, we will support individuals, particularly from more disadvantaged backgrounds and areas, to access and benefit from higher education, and provide vital upskilling and reskilling provision to employers.”
If the bid is successful, the Skills Hub will help meet the area’s need for higher-level advanced academic and technical skills by offering courses for school leavers. Post GCSE, students will be able to gain qualifications from level 3 right through to university degree courses.
In addition, the college is leading the submission for an Institute of Technology which, if successful, would sit alongside the Hub offering outstanding progression opportunities for students in Higher Education.
Speaking about the Institute of Technology (IoT) proposal Director of Curriculum (Technical, Adult and Employer Learning) at Furness College Steve McAloone said: “We want our students to have a seamless progression from education into excellent careers with good prospects. Through the IoT we would focus on a digital specialism to support a range of growing sectors including advanced manufacturing, health, business and energy.”
A detailed business plan will now be developed around each project before the final bid is submitted to government this summer. These shortlisted projects will be the priority for the Town Deal over the next five years.
Full details of each of the schemes can be found on the #BrilliantBarrow website www.brilliantbarrow.org.uk, along with details of how to have your say.