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4th Dec, 2021

College chiefs vow to expand Pershore site

Rob George 3rd Dec, 2020

COLLEGE chiefs have vowed to expand Pershore College and retain their Evesham site after a radical shake-up which saw them announce Malvern Hills College would close.

WCG revealed their plans after an 18-month review into the viability of all three sites which has seen the Vale bases spared the axe.

WCG admitted it has accelerated its plans due to the impact of Covid-19 to ‘balance educational objectives and financial stability’ of the three colleges it operates.

Malvern Hills College was closed in March during the first lockdown and was the only one in the group not to re-open in September as the courses were not Government funded and the average age of the students meant they were more at risk from the virus.

It will be temporarily reopened in March, subject to Coronavirus restrictions, so the 900 adult learners on part-time art and craft courses can complete their academic year before it closes for good in August.

Full-time vocational courses, including hair and barbering, have already been transferred to Evesham College in response to Covid-19, with WCG providing a direct bus service which is set to continue.

Principal Angela Joyce said: “Given the widely-known pressures in the FE sector, linked to a decade of funding cuts, we have had to continually drive improvements and like almost all organisations and businesses, Covid-19 has impacted WCG significantly.”

Ms Joyce said the type of education offered at Malvern Hills was no longer viable for WCG and it had been financially supported by the rest of the group.

Pershore’s MP Harriett Baldwin, whose constituency includes Malvern Hills, said she was shocked WCG had taken the decision when training young people was more important than ever.

“I am saddened for those people taking courses like hair dressing or beauty therapy who are faced with a long diversion to Evesham to continue their studies.”

She also criticised WCG for not holding a consultation or sharing the plans with her, adding when it took over the Malvern site they had vowed to invest in it.

“This feels like a very short-term decision, bearing in mind our national need to help young people to get the skills they need to compete in a difficult job market.

“The college group has rightly looked to expand its digital skills teaching capability and we should be doing more teaching locally, not less.”

Ms Baldwin has asked for an urgent meeting with Ms Joyce to understand her thinking and for reassurance it is ‘not just an asset-stripping exercise’.

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