Mayoral visit champions adult education and the need for creative industries

Tracy Brabin, the newly elected mayor of West Yorkshire, visited Leeds City College’s Quarry Hill campus earlier this month as part of a wider campaign to promote adult learning as the region recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The former actress and scriptwriter on Coronation Street, met with Colin Booth, CEO of Luminate Education Group, Bill Jones deputy CEO of Luminate Education Group and Quarry Hill Campus principal, Suzy Gallagher, who shared the overall vision of the campus and future plans for the growth and expansion of teaching spaces, before giving her a tour of the facilities.

The visit spanned a tour of the impressive nine-story building’s School of Creative Arts and School of Social Science. Tracy had the opportunity to visit the TV and media studio, the ESports lab, dance and music studios, as well as the science labs, wellbeing and therapy room, the practical care suite and the 200-seat theatre complete with backstage technical equipment.

She also met teaching staff and students who shared their experiences and the motivation for picking their course and choosing to study at Leeds City College.

The mayor, who is passionate about adult education, has pledged to support adults with courses that are funded and accessible – with a particular emphasis on those who are from deprived backgrounds.

Quarry Hill Campus, which sits at the heart of the Cultural Quarter and is adjacent to Leeds Playhouse has played an important role in addressing regional skills gaps with courses including health science and social care, public services, childhood and education, visual and digital arts, games design, media, music and performance production.

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said: “I am delighted to have visited Quarry Hill Campus to hear the success stories of the college.

“There is something special about the creative arts industry and we’re missing something if we take innovative minds out of the skills agenda.

“Everyone has something to offer and we need to ensure that everyone, of all backgrounds and ages, has the same opportunities across our fantastic region.

“One of my key pledges is to champion a Creative New Deal that ensures there is investment in our region’s talent and that arts courses are widely accessible as it is crucial to the region’s broader economic recovery strategy.”

Bill and Suzy spoke of the need for expansion and creating more learning spaces and opportunities for students as the demand for people pursuing courses has grown.

Suzy said: “We have grown exponentially since we opened in 2019 as a result of the new facilities and the range of our offer. We have also found that our Level 3, (A Level equivalent vocational and technical) courses including the new T Level provision are the most popular this academic year.

“We have a large number of adults particularly in health science and social care. We’re really proud of the work we achieved in the height of the pandemic alongside the local authority to quickly train people, so that they could go out into care homes and support the gaps that we needed at that time.”

With the recent government announcement regarding the Adult Education Budget (AEB), being set a 90% threshold, in light of national lockdown restrictions, Leeds City College will be looking to work closely with combined and local authorities, and local enterprise partnerships, to ensure their provision is supporting current labour market conditions and future economic and social developments.

The college also aims to ensure that its adult education provision continues to build resilience in adults with a focus on employability, digital skills and mental health. In addition, creating accessible opportunities for those looking to upskill, reskill or change their career.

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