Bedford College one of strongest in UK

Thursday 26 June 2014

As further education colleges across the UK fall foul of Government changes in funding, Bedford College is among the most sound financially.

Last year it achieved a record income of £35 Million and like many others was predicting a reduction for 2014/15, but instead it will break through its own ‘personal best’ barrier again.

This has been achieved whilst maintaining great student results and the strongest FE education Ofsted report in Bedfordshire. 

Along the way it has reduced staff numbers, without impacting on teaching and learning standards, and taken over its major competitor in providing apprenticeships: Bedford Training Group, in the process adding to its own trainee numbers.

“We have good relationships with our competitors so when they find themselves in trouble, they feel they can turn to us to resolve the situation for the benefit of their learners,” said Ian Pryce CBE, Principal and CEO at a staff meeting on May 9th.

On the same day the Government had decided to announce Bedford College’s plan to sponsor Central Bedfordshire University Technical College (UTC) at Houghton Regis, further proof of the confidence in which the award-winning management team at Bedford College are held by those in Central Government. 

Locally school children and their parents are choosing Bedford College, Shuttleworth College (taken over in 2009) or The Bedford Sixth Form (opened in 2012)  for their post 16 education.

“Only 48% of pupils in local schools stay on – instead they are making Bedford College their first choice,” said Ian,

“We believe this is because, as Ofsted says, we have High Expectations of our students – we are always striving to make them be better.”

Coming up in 2014/15 the educational sector is facing challenge. Cuts in SFA and EFA funding across the further education sector will mean Bedford College will be reducing the work it gives to learning provider sub-contractors.

In turn schools are cutting back on the number of 14-16 year olds they send to Bedford College for one a day a week under the “14+ Bridges” scheme, which gives young people the chance to make informed decisions about their future careers.

“It will be a tough year but we will recoup funding in the following year. In the meantime there are opportunities for ‘open ended’ funding in higher education, 24+ education, and to recruit 14 year olds here full-time which we can explore,” added Ian.