Nottingham College has been successful in attracting grant funding which will unlock investment totalling £5m in its provision for Students with Learning Difficulties and/or Disabilities (SLDD).
A government grant of £4m has been awarded through the FE Transformation Fund, and together with £1m from the College, a new Independent Living and Employability Centre will be developed for up to 200 students who have learning difficulties and/or disabilities.
The new centre will be built within the College’s Basford site, itself the beneficiary of a Government grant back in 2014. This latest grant totalling just shy of £4m represents a significant investment in FE education for those with special educational needs.
The new Grade A, purpose-built centre will be energy efficient and offer the latest in specialist teaching and learning resources for SEND education. The bid, submitted back in 2021, was agreed earlier in April and subject to planning approval, the new centre will be open and available for students from September 2024.
The College currently supports around 90 SLDD students at its Basford campus but the majority of its SLDD provision is located within its Arthur Mee Centre in Stapleford.
Whilst the College has a long and successful track record of SLDD delivery at the Arthur Mee Centre, the Victorian former school-house is no longer fit for purpose and requires significant restoration and innovation to meet the specialist requirements of our SLDD learners.
Transport is currently provided for students in order for them to access provision at Arthur Mee. These same transport arrangements will be in place for learners accessing the new site at Basford. It means that learners from all over the city and wider conurbation can access the new provision.
Relocating the centre presents a unique opportunity to better integrate our SLDD provision with education and training opportunities already housed within the Basford campus, such as construction, healthcare, animal science and sport.
An architect’s indicative illustration for the new centre depicts a facility with all the latest equipment and resources in modern, light and comfortable classrooms, IT suites, workshops, training kitchens and community gardens.
Martin Sim, Interim CEO and Principal for Nottingham College, said:
“All of our students deserve the very best learning environments we can offer, and over the last few years, the College has worked hard to transform its estate and deliver an improved experience for all. We’re delighted to be able to continue with our ambitions with this new grant, which will not only enable us to deliver a new and improved learning environment to our SLDD learners, but allow us to better integrate this specialist provision with the vast vocational provision we already have on offer at our Basford campus.
“We are reducing our physical footprint by about 1200sqm by utilising a more efficient, purpose-built setting, designed specifically for our SLDD provision, without compromising teaching and learning. But, what’s more, we are also able to reduce our carbon footprint by some 116,000 tonnes of CO2 a year, a key element of our broader sustainability commitment, outlined in our estates strategy.”
Carl Ara, Head of Centre for both Basford and the current Arthur Mee campus, said:
“Bringing provision together into one site presents a number of exciting opportunities, not least the chance for our construction students to have a real-life project on their doorstep to learn from. For our SLDD learners, I’m really keen to get them involved in the planning and design process for the new build, ensuring it best reflects their needs and aspirations.
“This represents a once in a generation investment for SLDD teaching and learning and I’m proud to have played my part in securing this opportunity for our students, their families and our staff, who care so passionately for the welfare and wellbeing of our SLDD student community.”
The College will not be moving its SLDD provision until the new centre is ready to open in September 2024. Between now and then the College will work with residents and businesses in Stapleford to ensure that Arthur Mee remains a vital community asset. This includes a full feasibility analysis into its retained use by the College in the future.