New College Stamford needs to “drag itself out of the dinosaur age”, according to the woman in charge of overseeing its progress.
The post-16 college in Drift Road has endured a turbulent year, with principal April Carroll handing in her resignation following a vote of no confidence by staff, just months after joining.
A new principal is likely to be appointed in the next couple of weeks, and they will be given the task of modernising the college and making it a central point of the Stamford community.
Alison Grant was appointed chairman of the college corporation in March. The corporation works in a similar way to a board of school governors. Against a background of funding cuts, Alison is responsible for overseeing both the performance and finances of the college. She and her colleagues know they must move forward in order to best serve their students.
Alison said: “For me the college should be the first place that comes into someone’s mind when they are thinking of anything they want to do to expand themselves, whether that’s through learning a new skill or completely retraining.
“We are not trying to do anything here that’s rocket science or become some example for everyone. Realistically we have got to drag ourselves out of the dinosaur age and become a modern college with a modern way of thinking.”
Funding is a key issue. The college has to cope with cuts to its Government grant while also providing a maths and English GCSE education for any student who left school without at least a C.
Alison accused the Government of “holding a knife to the throat of colleges”, adding: “If students don’t turn up to all their lessons the Government takes the money back at the end of the year.
“We are also having to fund more English and maths teachers and there is a huge drought.”
But she is keen, despite these problems, for the college to expand and diversify. New members have joined the corporation, many with financial or business backgrounds. And Alison hopes, with the help of the new principal, to promote the college and make it a key part of Stamford’s community.
“We’re in the middle of Stamford,” she said. “It should be Stamford’s college. I don’t think we have the engagement we should have.
“We are still pretty old fashioned. We have got to move forward. We are still offering a similar curriculum to the one that the technical college next to my school did when I was 18.”
Many changes have already been made, and there will be more to come. Alison said: “It has to be the best. We can’t sit back on our heels and say it’s adequate.”