WCG which runs Malvern Hills College has responded to comments made by MP Harriett Baldwin and has organised a meeting with the new Save Our Students Task Force group.
In a statement released this afternoon, a spokesperson for WCG said its CEO Angela Joyce had now met Ms Baldwin and wanted to confirm a number of points regarding Malvern Hills College that it felt had been misconstrued.
“The key misunderstanding related to the supposition that Malvern Hills College had a significant number of Government-funded young people studying there.
“In fact, in 2020 only 10 young students who live in Malvern were enrolled on beauty and barbering courses and they were transferred to Evesham College back in September – with transport provided by WCG – and continue with their studies.
“An additional seven adult Malvern residents also transferred with the Access to Higher Education Art and Design course.”
The spokesperson added the concentration of further education courses and apprenticeships at Evesham College meant opportunities for progression and moves into employment were significantly greater there, which was in the students’ best interests.
“The key skills being sought in Malvern are around the technology needed by businesses on the Science Park and other developments, and WCG has already committed to providing both a facility and brand new T Level in Digital Support and Services at the Science Park from September 2021.”
The spokesperson said they were disappointed to be accused of not communicating with Ms Baldwin in the run-up to our announcement about Malvern Hills College.
“WCG has a very positive relationship with MPs right across our area of operation and we engaged with them all in a number of communications over the lockdown period, highlighting financial pressures caused by both Covid and Government under-funding, and the potential implications for further education colleges.
“Support for our situation was given by a number of our MPs, so it was a pity that throughout all this period of communication we had no feedback from Harriett’s office.”
WCG wanted to clarify Malvern Hills College was primarily an adult leisure learning environment providing art and craft courses.
“WCG agrees that it would be ideal if this provision could continue in some form and the heritage of the Malvern School of Art can live on.
“Since the announcement last Friday, Angela has spoken with a number of councillors and has a meeting with the task force this coming week to offer our support towards ensuring the provision can be retained in Malvern.
“Finally, the comment that WCG is an ‘out of town college group’ lacks credibility as WCG has operated within Worcestershire since 2007.
“In addition to Malvern Hills the group runs colleges in Evesham and Pershore as well as operating the Link Nurseries community facility in Powick.
“We continue to actively develop provision at both Pershore and Evesham colleges to strengthen and grow their curriculum over the coming years.”
The Save Our Students Task Force
WE REPORTED earlier today how Coun Tom Wells, also the council’s Portfolio Holder for Community Services, has brought together a group of ten local people with extensive practice-based FE teaching and management, experience with business and local government.
Among them are Gini McKay, former Vice Principal of Evesham and Malvern Hills College and later South Worcestershire College until she retired in 2015, Christopher Green, former Trustee and Chairman of Malvern Hills College, and Roger Britton, Chair of Community First, Herefordshire and Worcestershire.
Others include former Malvern Hills College lecturer Fergus McKay, former local nurse and midwife Maddy Pennock who retrained at the college and a number of councillors from the district, town and county councils.
Making up the councillors are Coun Julie Wood, Coun John Raine, Coun Clive Hooper, Coun Beverley Nielsen and Coun Cynthia Palmer.
WCG announced late last week it would be closing Malvern Hills College and selling off the building after carrying out a review.
Click here to read more on the task force and the comments by MP Harriett Baldwin.