Peterborough Regional College wins funding to advance inclusion

Peterborough Regional College. Photo: Paul Franks
Peterborough Regional College. Photo: Paul Franks

Peterborough Regional College (PRC), in partnership with ACER, has won funding to deliver an innovative new project to advance equality, diversity and inclusion for learners with learning difficulties or disabilities in Cambridgeshire and Essex.

The partners have secured funding of approximately £23,500 from the Skills Funding Agency as part of the new Equality and Diversity innovation Fund (2013/14), to provide opportunities for students on foundation programmes to take part in skills competitions to help increase aspiration, build confidence and raise standards.

The aim of the Skills Funding Agency’s Equality and Diversity Innovation Fund (2013/14) is to support innovative and sustainable projects that develop the capacity of the sector to meet the public sector Equality Duty (2010) and that will have the greatest positive impact for learners and potential learners. The Fund will be managed by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE).

Despite the high profile of competitions like World Skills there is no national skills competition structure for foundation level learners, leaving them little opportunity to showcase their skills. We will be working as part of the emerging national ‘Inclusive Skills Competitions’ association with general FE Colleges and National Specialist Colleges, to support the development of a competition infrastructure at foundation level and improve the opportunity to get involve in skills competitions.

Peterborough Regional College in partnership with ACER are one of 41 providers from across the country that made successful bids. A total of 243 bids were made to the fund which was open to the National Careers Service and organisations in England whose primary function is as a provider of further education and training or. Funded projects will finish by June 2014, but their impact will continue to be studied by NIACE and the Skills funding Agency until 2015.

Jeremy Lloyd. Head of Inclusive learning at PRC said: “This opportunity for students is phenomenal. Through partnership working with other learning providers, we will create a fair environment for students to develop their confidence, meet new people, to think independently and to take part in competitions so that they can optimise their skills and abilities.”

Kim Thorneywork, Chief Executive of the Skills Funding Agency, said, “We are delighted that these grants have been awarded and thank all who applied. The number of applications demonstrate that the sector is rising to our equality and diversity challenge.

“I hope that these valuable projects will help those who are under-represented or disadvantaged in learning, reach their potential in life.”

Carol Taylor, NIACE Director for Development and Research, said, “We are pleased to have been chosen to act as a trusted partner in managing the Equality and Diversity Innovation Fund. It is evident from all the previous funds we’ve managed that even a small amount of funding can make a huge difference to providers.

“This latest round of funding from the Skills Funding Agency will help transform the futures of some of the most under-represented people in society by supporting them to progress. The 41 successful projects are giving people the chance to innovate, to develop new partnerships and to develop strategies to engage and support diverse groups.”