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Milton Keynes College Group growing to meet needs of the City

More students, new provision and more teaching and learning taking place in the community are all on the horizon at Milton Keynes College Group.

Sally Alexander has been confirmed in position as the permanent CEO after many years running the prison education services for which the College Group has such a strong, national reputation, and most recently three years working as a key member of the Group’s Executive Team. Sally Alexander says student numbers will have to grow to cope with the continuing expansion of the city, but the Group is also anticipating increasing its highly regarded provision of prison education.

Sally says, “We’re committed to a strategy of Building Fairer Futures for our communities and the way we will do this is to make sure we have the capacity to cope with the growing numbers of young people looking for the education and skills they need to launch their careers, and supporting adults across the city to further develop in the workplace.”

Sally says that a number of new developments have come together to support expansion including the opening of the new Chaffron Centre equipped with the latest technologies for employers and students, the expansion of the Innovation and Technology Centre providing more teaching spaces, and the scheduled completion of the new building for the South Central Institute of Technology (SCIoT) in Bletchley, which will be ready to open fully from April 2023.

The College is pleased following its excellent GCSE results in English and maths in the summer, which saw 810 pupils go up at least one grade this summer. “It’s important to remember that the students who come to us to retake their English and maths have had twelve years of school leading up to those exams. We have them for just 33 weeks, so improvement on this scale is impressive and bucks the national trend.”

The need to accommodate more students is also focusing attention on the curriculum. This year the team are undertaking a comprehensive review to ensure provision is relevant to the needs of young people and adults across the city, and the stakeholders we work with.

“We’ve worked very hard to build excellent links with stakeholders in the city and to involve employers in curriculum development, so that we know we’re teaching the right curriculum to support employer needs, and to ensure our offer is in line with the skills needs of Milton Keynes. We also want to prevent our young people leaving the city, making it harder to recruit here. We want to make Milton Keynes a place where, whatever your ambitions, you can follow them here.”

The College is very aware of the difficult economic landscape we all find ourselves in currently and is working with staff across the Group to support on challenges surrounding pay and wellbeing. The College has negotiated successfully a pay agreement with the trade unions and is now continuing work to review and develop practices to support wellbeing in the workplace.

Growth will also apply to the prison education arm of the Group’s training portfolio, where discussions continue with the Ministry of Justice and other providers, for the College to explore provision within the private estate. “We are excited to grow to meet the needs of our communities” Sally says. “We need to stay relevant to our expanding city, and that means we can never take our eye off the next opportunity to develop and improve our provision.”

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