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Education Secretary shown how pupils can learn in a further education college rather than school

PUBLISHED: 08:00 23 June 2019

Education Secretary meeting young students on visit to New City College. Picture: New City

Education Secretary meeting young students on visit to New City College. Picture: New City

New City College

The Education Secretary dropped in on pupils during their lessons in east London who can't settle in mainstream schools to find out how they're being taught in a further education environment.

Pupils show Damian Hinds what learning in a further education college is like rather than school. Picture: New CityPupils show Damian Hinds what learning in a further education college is like rather than school. Picture: New City

Damian Hinds' visit to the Arbour Square campus of New City College in Stepney was a fact-finding mission following a long-running campaign against government education cuts.

New City, formerly Tower Hamlets College, runs programmes for youngsters unable to settle in mainstream education or those just arrived in Britain facing disadvantage if they don't speak English.

"All young people deserve access to education," the Secretary of State acknowledged. "The programmes at the college are initiatives for those who need support to help achieve their goals."

He had a discussion with a mixed group of GCSE students about their education and their career ambitions—which included teaching, becoming an astrophysicist, a civil servant, electrical engineer and a biomedic.

Mr Hinds came under pressure from MPs at Westminster in April over education funding which led to him making a case for more cash ahead of the government's spending review, recognising that finances were "challenging".

New City college principal Gerry McDonald said after the Education Secretary's visit on Tuesday: "He heard first-hand about youngsters aged 14 to 16 who can be taught in a further education environment where many youngsters continue with us successfully."

Mr McDonald led a campaign lobbying Parliament three years ago to stop budget cuts to further education which faced a growing financial burden just to keep going. He scrapped fees earlier this year for adults learning English as a second language with the college paying for it out of its diminished budget.

But Mr Hinds' visit to Arbour Square was to see how GCSE pupils, some having to learn English from scratch, cope in a college environment rather than school. He also saw pupils on the 'new horizons' programme for pupils aged 14 to 16 who can't settle in mainstream schools.

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