DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION (DfE) capital investment in Northumberland College will take its provision of technical qualifications to a new level with expansion of T Level subjects in areas critical to the demand for skills and the rural economy.

Northumberland college, part of the Education Partnership North East (EPNE) a group of vibrant colleges, confirmed earlier this year that it would be expanding its Kirkley Hall Campus skills strategy into engineering, manufacturing, processing and control, maintenance, installation/ repair for engineering and manufacturing, agriculture, land management and production, animal management.

The new provision will include a range of T Levels, new two-year courses developed in collaboration with employers and broadly equivalent to three A Levels. These exciting new qualifications will prepare the college’s students for entry into skilled employment, an apprenticeship or related technical study through further or higher education.

The capital investment from the T Level Capital Fund (TLCF) comes from the latest round of DfE support, a £74m budget enabling the roll out of 86 T Level projects nationally.

The aim of the TLCF is to provide FE colleges with world-class facilities for the provision of T Levels. The fund’s major investment in Northumberland will transform its Kirkley Hall campus, refurbishing and refitting classrooms workshops and learning spaces to create first-class facilities.

Specifically, the Kirkley Hall project will involve:

  • Creation of new industry informed classrooms and workshops including automation, robotics and agritech facilities, plus engineering and manufacturing workshops
  • Creation of a new 360-degree immersive hub capable of digitally transporting students into international, national and regional engineering and agricultural environments, through to internal anatomical structures and systems of animals
  • Refurbishment of Kirkley Hall working Farm with new barns, technical farm resources, sheep handing and shearing facilities;
  • Creation of a new arboricultural area;
  • Demolition of mobile classrooms and buildings that are no linger fit for purpose

Ellen Thinnesen OBE, Chief Executive of EPNE, said: “This is major news for Northumberland College and the communities we serve in the county. We’re delighted the Department for Education has the trust and confidence to invest in our college as this funding will transform not just what we deliver, but how we deliver it, ultimately providing improved access to technical career routes for our students.

“This investment will ensure our Kirkley Hall Campus in Ponteland, Northumberland is ahead of the curve particularly as it will enable us to deliver curriculum inclusive of green skills, biosecurity, environmental protection and improvement”.

Gary Potts, Principal of Northumberland College said “I am delighted we can broaden our already high-quality offer at Kirkley Hall.  It is paramount that we deliver the skills required now and into the future, to enable our local people to access long term sustainable careers in the region.  This funding will enable us to do exactly that.  I am particularly excited to introduce new engineering facilities but also our developments in agritech, aimed to develop skills for the emerging jobs in that sector, focusing on technology and data.

“The campus is already an amazing place to learn but this will allow us to deliver provision in key areas of growth, whilst also improving some of the current facilities. The addition of a high-tech immersive learning environment is going to provide incredible opportunities in a cutting edge, innovative and exciting way.”

EPNE also revealed further TLCF investment has been allocated to create a best-in-class T Level centre at Hartlepool Sixth Form. Investment will help establish new engineering, manufacturing and tech facilities as well as a new business hub at the college’s Blakelock Road campus.

And a further allocation will pay for a refurbishment at Sunderland College’s Bede Campus, which will create industry-leading workshops for the college’s media, broadcast and TV and radio production students.

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