Northern College Retains Independence

16th August 2021

The future’s bright at Northern College, as they launch new courses for adults, retain their independence & recruit new staff during a period of growth. Their secured funding enables the college to continue to support adults to change their lives.

As the only adult residential college in the North, Northern College has retained its independence and is here to stay, with secured funding to support adults to re-enter education and transform their lives.

The college has also launched an exciting new range of courses, modernised its brand, is getting ready to launch a new website, and is recruiting new staff to roles during a period of growth.

But earlier this year the college’s leadership team and Board of Governors successfully weathered what became termed ‘a perfect storm’.

Northern College was faced with potential changes to how adult residential education is funded. This was alongside fewer students coming to college as a result of Covid-19, which disproportionately impacted its residential provision.

As a result of this perfect storm, the college entered a formal appraisal process led by the Government’s FE Commissioner to support the college to explore the best way to secure a sustainable delivery model to continue to deliver outstanding education to its adult learners. This explored a wide range of options, from college independence to merger.

Northern College worked with its partners, students and staff to develop a sustainable business proposal to retain its independence and to secure financial sustainability, and it was an outstanding success.

The college has received Ministerial approval to retain its independence, secured its funding, launched an exciting range of new courses and is recruiting new staff to join the college and deliver its strategic plan ‘Strategic Ambition 2025’.

The published Further Education (FE) Commissioner appraisal report of the college highlights strong college leadership and governance, high quality teaching and learning and excellent student achievement rates.

The college also received significant support from students, staff, partners and senior politicians to remain independent as a beacon of adult education in Yorkshire.

Yultan Mellor, Principal and Chief Executive at Northern College, explains:

“I am delighted to be able to tell everyone that Northern College has been given a huge stamp of approval. Following a FE Commissioner led Structure and Prospects Appraisal (SPA) process to review the work of the College and how we are funded, it has been confirmed that we will retain independence and continue to develop and deliver outstanding adult residential education for the communities of South and West Yorkshire, and beyond. I look forward to welcoming lots of students to our new offer from September.

“I would like to thank our close partners and stakeholders for their support and recognition, as well as our team who have been amazing throughout the process. And most of all, our students past and present whose stories about how they got here and what they went on to achieve always demonstrate the value of Northern College.'

Northern College Co-Chairs Clive Macdonald and Bob Harrison said:

“The Governors are proud of our tradition and long history of providing adults with second chances at lifelong learning in a caring and supportive environment. Recognised by Ofsted as an outstanding provider, reaffirmed by local, regional and national agencies, Northern College remains a beacon of Adult Education. We must acknowledge the tremendous hard work of the Principal and her staff during the SPA process, and the outcome is a vote of confidence in them and the future of the college.”

Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, Gillian Keegan MP, explains about the college’s independent proposal in her approval letter:

“The standalone vision reflects a collaborative model with potential to build on the strong stakeholder support for the unique provision that the college offers to adults across Sheffield City Region, West Yorkshire and beyond. The college has a strong track record on quality, leadership, governance and widening participation which is recognised and acknowledged.”


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