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Northern College, Barnsley: Residential Provision

Volume 693: debated on Monday 26 April 2021

What steps he is taking to ensure the future sustainability of residential provision at Northern College in Barnsley. [R] (914726)

The Further Education Commissioner carried out a diagnostic assessment at Northern College in February, and a structure and prospects appraisal started this month, on 21 April. A number of options are being considered to improve the college’s financial position. We will continue to work with Sheffield City Region Mayoral Combined Authority and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, which will provide the majority of the college’s funding from August 2021.

I am grateful the Minister for that response. She will know that Northern College is one of Barnsley’s proudest institutions—it provides an outstanding level of education and reaches disadvantaged learners—but financially it is on the brink. In respect of the Government’s review, will the Minister commit to working closely with local stakeholders, so that together we can do everything we can to ensure that Northern College retains its independence and its residential provision?

I have had many representations from MPs in the hon. Gentleman’s area, not least my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone and Stocksbridge (Miriam Cates). As I said, the structure and prospects appraisal began on 21 April. Membership of the steering group includes representatives of the college governing body, the interim FE Commissioner, the deputy FE Commissioner, senior officers from the two combined authorities and the Education and Skills Funding Agency. The FE Commissioner’s team has made contact with all local MPs and I have offered a call with all local MPs. We are committed to work in good faith to ensure that we look seriously at the options for Northern College.