Jenny Cornish finds out about Peterborough’s adult education college - which re-launched last month, with a new name for a bright future - about its changing role.
Peterborough College of Adult Education has been expanding significantly over the last few years, currently teaching around 9,500 people each year. Students now include a large number of young people completing apprenticeships and foundation learning programmes – hence the change of name to City College, Peterborough.
The diverse range of courses and students means the college is in a good position for the future, according to principal David Roxburgh.
“We’ve expanded hugely over recent years and now include a lot of work with younger people, 14 to 19-year-olds,” he said.
“The word ‘adult’ in our title was becoming increasingly inaccurate. We were able to get some assistance to look at our branding and it was felt that something which was more embracing would be better. It’s simpler and more up to date.
“The number of courses we do has expanded hugely. We do a huge range of different subjects – courses such as art and photography, dance, keep fit and badminton.
“We also do courses that lead to qualifications – including teacher training and IT. Our work with young people continues to expand and we do a range of apprenticeships and foundation learning programmes.
“The number of students that we see in a year continues to increase. This year we’ll probably see 9,500 students.”
The college has come a long way since the Peterborough Adult Education Institute was founded in 1944. The name was changed to Peterborough College of Adult Education (PCAE) in 1970 when it moved into its own building close to the centre of the city, in Brook Street.
Work has continued to develop the college over the decades and it has modern facilities including a training kitchen for catering courses and a fully-equipped construction room where students can learn painting and decorating and joinery.
Courses are also delivered at more than 100 centres throughout Peterborough, including schools, community centres and faith centres.
Mr Roxburgh has been principal of the college for 18 months and in that time has overseen an increase in the amount of work with young people.
The college now caters for three main groups of people – the younger age group, which includes apprenticeships and similar courses; people who are already working and want or need further training, for example leadership and management courses; and people who want to take traditional adult education courses.
Mr Roxburgh said: “It’s very important for us that we retain all three of these areas in a time when some colleges are having to reduce in particular the more traditional types of courses due to constraints on funding. It’s very important that we retain that for us and it’s good for Peterborough.
“The three areas work together and support each other. We’re not having to cut back on adult courses – it’s part of our ethos, it’s good for Peterborough and they are very popular. At the moment we have tried, and succeeded so far, to retain that so the number haven’t really dropped. We’re proud of that.
“I think the future is very positive because we are in these three different areas. We haven’t got all our eggs in one basket. We may find that funding reduces and we may have to look at fees, but it’s our determination to keep it as affordable as possible.”
Mr Roxburgh says people may be attracted to the college to give themselves an advantage in the current difficult economic climate.
“In a time when people are more constrained financially, people are looking for value for money and also courses which can help them financially,” he said.
“We do upholstery courses, sewing courses, things which can actually save people money in the long run. Our courses do also improve people’s work skills and as the economy continues to become difficult people want to make sure they’re well qualified. We have seen big increases in these areas.”
n For more information on the courses available at the college, call 01733 761361, email email@example.com or visit the website www.pals.ac.uk