Herefordshire, Ludlow and North Shropshire College (HLNSC) is a high performing
further education college located across the Marches at six distinctive campuses in
Hereford, Holme Lacy, Ludlow, Oswestry, Walford and Shrewsbury.
Originally established in 1949 as Herefordshire College of Technology, and operating
from a single campus in the City of Hereford, the College has in recent years grown
through a series of mergers. In each case, through effective and efficient
management, the College has continued to support a broad range of local, high-quality
education and skills training opportunities.
Herefordshire College is a large centre delivering vocational qualifications in the city
of Hereford. It is the only general further education facility in the county and offers a
broad range of programmes for young people and adults from a wide geographical
area, including the neighbouring counties of Worcestershire, Gloucestershire,
Shropshire and Powys. The campus also serves as the College’s main administrative
Holme Lacy College
Following the disaggregation of the Pershore group of colleges, Holme Lacy College
was incorporated into the College structure in 2007. Holme Lacy College and its
associated ca.300hectare farm, Pound Farm, is the country’s only fully organic further
education facility and continues to deliver a broad portfolio of land-based courses. It
is one of only three centres in the UK approved to train apprentice farriers and is home
to the National School of Blacksmithing.
Ludlow Sixth Form College
Ludlow Sixth Form College delivers a blend of A Levels and classroom-based
vocational courses. It merged with Herefordshire College of Technology in 2013 to
become Herefordshire and Ludlow College.
Formally Shropshire County Council’s training division, the contract for County
Training’s provision was novated to Herefordshire and Ludlow College in 2016.
County Training delivers a range of apprenticeships and adult and community learning
programmes. Based at the Gateway Centre in Shrewsbury, County Training plays an
important role in the local community.
North Shropshire College
North Shropshire College, itself a result of a previous merger, was incorporated into
the College in 2018. It comprises of two distinct campuses:
- Walford College is a predominately dairy-based ca.300hectare farm and
agricultural campus offering a range of land-based courses alongside provision in
motor vehicles and SEND. It also plays host to a small campus run by the Derwen
College, a Shropshire-based specialist provider for adults with learning difficulties.
- NSC Oswestry Campus – A town-based facility which is home to a range of
vocational general further education courses.
2. VISION AND MISSION
The College’s vision is:
To support students, communities and businesses to fully realise their potential by
delivering high quality academic, technical, professional and community learning. We
take pride in our legacy: successful students who are skilled, knowledgeable,
enterprising, professional and resilient.
The College’s mission is:
To realise potential and support success.
3. KEY FACTS
In 2021-2022, the College:
- Trained ca. 2,400 full-time and 6,000 part-time students. The majority of full-time
students, ca.2,100, are aged 16 to 18.
- Trained ca.700 apprentices.
- Worked with more than 600 individual employers and companies.
- Delivered university-level programmes through the Hereford University Centre, a
joint initiative with the University of Worcester, the College’s principal university
- Supported the majority of students to progress into further/higher education or
employment on completion of their studies.
- Is one of the largest employers in the region, employing a talented and wellqualified staff base of ca.600, some 400 FTE.
- Was inspected in October 2022 as a newly merged organisation (without grade).
Inspectors judged the provision to be ‘Good’ overall.
4. LOCAL CONTEXT
Herefordshire, Ludlow and North Shropshire College is located in Herefordshire and
Shropshire, situated at the western edge of the West Midlands region, in the heart of
the Welsh Marches. The area is predominantly rural and of exceptional natural beauty:
fertile unspoilt farmland, the Wye and Severn valleys, Malvern and Shropshire Hills,
and the Black Mountains.
Herefordshire and Shropshire are sparsely populated, some of the least populated
areas of England. Of the 193,600 residents of Herefordshire, over half live in rural
locations. The principal population centres are the cathedral city of Hereford (60,800),
and the market towns of Leominster (12,000), Ross-on-Wye (11,200) and Ledbury
Shropshire (excluding Telford and Wrekin) has a much larger population of 325,400;
75,000 live in the county town of Shrewsbury and over half reside in rural areas. The
largest market towns are Oswestry (17,000), Bridgnorth (12,000), Market Drayton
(12,000) and Ludlow (10,000).
Both counties have an older age demographic than average, partly because many
young people leave the area to study at university and do not return. The vast majority
of residents are of white ethnic origin; the only significant minority being white
residents of non-British or Irish origin (3.9% in Herefordshire, 2.0% in Shropshire).
Herefordshire’s economic output is low compared to the regional and national
economy; wages are well below national average, but unemployment is also
significantly lower than average. Of the county’s 11,900 enterprises, the vast majority,
86.8%, are micro-enterprises employing nine or fewer people; 11.2% small (10 to 49
employees); 1.3% medium-sized (50 to 249 employees); and only 0.3% large (250+
employees). The industries that contribute the most to the local economy are:
manufacturing (19%), distribution, transport and communication (17%), real estate
activities (17%) and public administration, education, health and other services (15%).
These four sectors make up over two thirds of all economic output.
A sector of particular interest in Herefordshire is agriculture, forestry and fishing, which
accounts for a much higher proportion of gross value added (GVA) than for England
as a whole: 8% compared to only 1%.
Of the 73,000 employees in the county, nearly half work in the wholesale and retail
trade (13,000), manufacturing (11,000) and human health and social work activities
(11,000). Other key employment sectors, accounting for 23% of the total workforce,
are accommodation and food services, business administration and support services
Shropshire is remarkably similar to its southern neighbour: relatively low economic output, below average wages, and low unemployment rates. The County has 15,900
enterprises, 90.4% of which are micro-enterprises, 8.1% small, 1.3% medium-sized,
and just 0.3% large. In terms of contribution to GVA, the county’s principal sectors are
public administration, education, health and other services (21.8%), distribution,
transport, accommodation and food (20.3%), real estate (14.7%) and manufacturing
(10.5%), accounting for over two-thirds of all economic output. There are 120,000
employees in Shropshire, over half of whom work in the following sectors: human
health and social work activities (19,000), wholesale and retail trade (21,000),
manufacturing (11,000) and education (11,000). Other important sectors of the
economy, employing a further 18% of the workforce, are construction, professional,
scientific and technical, accommodation and food services, administration and arts,
entertainment and recreation.
In recent years, the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has played an
important part in driving economic growth in Herefordshire, Shropshire, and Telford
and Wrekin, seeking to create the conditions for economic vitality and sustainable
employment across the LEP area, which is home to 700,400 people and 32,230
The LEP’s core economic sectors are advanced manufacturing, business and
professional services and food and drink. Emerging sectors which have high future
economic and productivity growth potential comprise innovative health and social care,
environmental technology, cyber security and resilience, and agri-tech. The preceding
economic sectors are underpinned by the following enabling sectors: visitor economy,
retail, logistics, construction, health and social care, education and voluntary,
community and social enterprise.
Children, young people and adults are provided with generally good primary and
secondary education in Herefordshire and Shropshire. Most of the schools are judged
by Ofsted to be good or outstanding, many are academies, and there is much
innovative and excellent practice. There are sixteen secondary schools in
Herefordshire of which three have sixth forms plus four specialist schools. In
Shropshire there are twenty secondary schools, six of which offer post-16 provision,
and two specialist schools. The area’s most diverse College is Herefordshire, Ludlow
and North Shropshire College. There are five other further education colleges across
the two counties: Hereford College of Arts; Hereford Sixth Form College (now an
academy); the Royal National College for the Blind; Derwen College and the
Shrewsbury Colleges Group.
5. DEVELOPING CURRICULUM – A STRATEGIC APPROACH
The College’s five-year strategic plan, consulted on and approved in 2021, makes
clear our responsibility to provide the broadest possible range of educational services
in the rural communities we serve. This is particularly important given the sparsely
populated demographic, paucity of alternative provision and challenges of local
transport. Governors, leaders and managers are committed to ensuring that the
business and employer community are central to our planning.
The Strategic Plan includes a number of key commitments. Strategic Commitment 4
We will ensure that the provision fully supports the needs of our students and local economies.
This commitment is divided into four main areas of work. They are:
We will ensure that students have access to the training they need locally by
continuing to offer a broad range of vocational and academic training
opportunities in each of the areas we serve.
Access to services and transport are key issues for those living in rural areas, including
the Marches. Prudent financial management ensures that we maintain a wide range
of provision across a number of geographically dispersed centres.
A range of course levels are available to ensure students are able to progress
locally. Entry Level, Level 1 and Level 2 courses typically provide access for students
who have not yet achieved their key stage 4 thresholds. Level 3 provision is available
for those who require a higher level of technical proficiency and/or aspire to higher
education. Levels 4&5 are available in some subject areas providing local higher
Timetables are constructed to minimise travel requirements and fully utilise students’
time at College. Three full-day attendance patterns also support those who want, or
need, to work. This is particularly beneficial for those students who work in industries
allied to their main programme of study.
A broad range of apprenticeships are offered across the Marches. The College
continues to support apprenticeship delivery in more expensive, capital-intensive
areas of work. In some cases, apprentices would not otherwise be able to access this
training locally. Additionally, flexible apprenticeship delivery patterns ensure that each
sector is able to access training that suits their business needs.
We provide comprehensive support for students with identified learning and/or
physical needs. This includes on-programme learning support and a number of
courses specifically designed to educate and progress those with higher levels of
We offer land-based provision from two separate campuses, Walford College in the
north of Shropshire and Holme Lacy College in Herefordshire. Whilst Walford
College’s farm is predominantly dairy, mirroring the local agricultural economy, Holme
Lacy trains students on a mixed arable and livestock farm estate. Additionally, Holme
Lacy College’s farm, Pound Farm, is the only fully organic further education facility in
We support specialist niche training that is of national and international importance.
Holme Lacy College hosts the National School of Blacksmithing; the largest forging
facility in Europe and a national centre of excellence. Holme Lacy College is also one
of only three accredited centres in the United Kingdom to deliver training for farriers.
HLNSC has developed and maintains provision in forestry, arboriculture and furniture making.
We will develop a curriculum strategy that aligns with the needs of employers
in each of the communities we serve.
We determine curriculum intent with employer input, both directly and by using EMSI
data to ensure the knowledge, skills and behaviours we teach align with employer
need. We deliver both hard and soft skills to ensure students can progress
successfully towards employment. Additionally, we encourage employers to directly
influence the curriculum by developing opportunities for them to comment and discuss
their needs with curriculum delivery teams.
The College delivers apprenticeship provision that is responsive to the needs of
individuals and their employers. The use of industry expert assessors to undertake
workplace visits ensures that the training is bespoke and contextualised. Additional
training is agreed and delivered where a need is identified.
College managers pay close attention to local skills planning, including the work of the
LEP’s Skills Advisory Panel, Local Skills Improvement Plan and local authorities’
economic forums to plan future curriculum developments. The College actively
engages with employer representative groups. These include, Hereford and
Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce, Shropshire Chamber of Commerce,
Herefordshire Business Board, Shropshire Economic Forum, Herefordshire Skills
Board, the Federation of Small Businesses and the National Farmers Union.
HLNSC is responsive to the needs of employers and offers a range of training to meet
workplace requirements. The offer, flexible depending on need, includes examples
such as; higher-level engineering, welding, forging, agricultural competency
qualifications such as chainsaw operator, crop spraying, tractor driving, off-road
vehicles or telehandler operator, leadership and management and CIPD. Additionally,
the College delivers training for industry accreditation, including; 18th Regulations for
Electricians; accreditation for heating and gas engineers; MOT and Air-conditioning
for motor mechanics; AAT Accountancy and CIPD for personnel professionals.
Curriculum teams engage with key strategic employers and employer representative
groups to discuss training needs and develop provision. For example, by working
closely with the Farriery Registration Council and the Worshipful Company of Farriers
we ensure that training is industry specific and of a very high standard. The National
School of Blacksmithing, based at Holme Lacy College, works with leading industry
organisations such as the British Artists Blacksmithing Association to ensure that this
unique facility delivers the training needed to the highest standard. Engagement with
organisations such as LIC and the NFU ensure that the College’s agricultural provision
is an exemplar, both for students and for the local agricultural industry.
We will work in partnership with other providers to ensure that our offer aligns
with theirs to meet the needs of students and employers.
There are four further education colleges in the City of Hereford. Each College makes
a unique and complimentary contribution to Herefordshire’s post-16 landscape
ensuring that the full range of opportunities are available to young people and adults. Regular meetings ensure that we understand our educational role and helps us plan
curriculum that is complementary. We enjoy a strong relationship with Herefordshire’s
new university, NMITE, to discuss potential areas of collaboration and mutual support.
Regular meetings with schools and membership of bodies such as the Herefordshire
Association of Secondary Heads ensures that we remain cognisant of their needs and
are best placed to support them to achieve their Gatsby benchmarks. The College
works alongside secondary school partners across the region to support their students’
understanding of post-16 opportunities. Annual events such as Meet your Futures
provides school pupils with an opportunity to engage with vocational education before
committing to post-16 study.
The College ensures that it remains aligned with other post-16 providers through
membership of a number of regional provider partnership networks. These include;
SWAOC (Shropshire Wrekin Association of Colleges), MEP (Marches Education
Partnership), Herefordshire and Worcestershire Principals Group, MSPN (Marches
Skills Provider Network), and Landex (Land Based Colleges Aspiring to Excellence).
Additionally, senior managers meet regularly with colleagues from other local colleges
to better understand their offer and share ideas. These include our neighbours in
Worcestershire and Powys.
The College, along with the Shrewsbury Colleges Group and Telford College is a
founder member of the Marches Education Partnership. This partnership promotes a
collaborative approach to meeting employer needs. This recently resulted in the
successful delivery of two substantial employer-focused projects funded through the
DfE’s Strategic Development Fund.
The College works with specialist providers to develop provision to meet specific
needs. We recently partnered with the Derwen College, Oswestry, to deliver a project
designed to provide meaningful work experience opportunities for students with
complex needs and those studying Health Care.
Where appropriate, the College partners with other providers to deliver courses
required by local employers and to support national needs. Examples include:
- HWGTA (Herefordshire and Worcestershire Group Training Association) to deliver HNCs in Engineering to their higher-level apprentices
- Hereford College of Arts to deliver the country’s only BA(Hons) in Blacksmithing
- Warwickshire College Group, Myerscough College and the Farriery Registration
Council to deliver the apprenticeship standard in Farriery.
- HLNSC is one of only two associate colleges of the University or Worcester. This
relationship facilitates delivery of higher education programmes in Hereford.
We will work alongside other stakeholders to improve the socioeconomic
landscape by up-skilling the community and increasing productivity.
Membership of local business boards, Chambers of Commerce and other
representative groups ensures that the College remains closely linked to local
The College works closely with the Marches LEP which has supported a number of
capital developments, most recently including an award of £1.2m to develop the Low
Carbon Technology Training Centre at Holme Lacy College.
The College is fully engaged with Herefordshire and Shropshire local
authorities. Engagement with Herefordshire Sustainable Growth Strategy Board
resulted in the College’s involvement with the development of Herefordshire’s 2050
Economic Plan and the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. Membership of Shropshire’s
Economic Forum facilitates discussions about how skills can positively contribute to
their economic growth plans. As part of this, we are currently working with both
Herefordshire and Shropshire to deliver courses through the Government’s UKSPF
CONTRIBUTION TO SKILLS NEEDS – EXTERNAL VIEW
During their inspection in October 2022, Ofsted reviewed the College’s contribution to
local, regional and national skills needs and reported the following:
“Leaders and managers have worked well since the merger to ensure that learners
and apprentices benefit from a broad and rich curriculum that closely reflects the skills
needs of local, regional and national economies.
Leaders work well with a range of stakeholders. College leaders are well placed and
have significant involvement with local enterprise partnerships and local authorities.
Leaders work diligently with local NHS trusts. They have co-designed programmes to
support NHS staff to develop their English skills through the use of a mobile teaching
facility. Leaders contribute positively to research across the region which helps inform
local skills improvement plans.
Leaders have developed positive relationships with other providers of education and
training in the areas in which they work. They link well with other local colleges to plan
provision to ensure that it responds to the skills needs across the geographical areas
where they work. Leaders have developed useful partnerships with a range of
universities. They make sure the curriculum prepares learners well for moving into
Leaders work well with employers across the sector areas in which they offer
provision. They understand clearly the changing skills needs in areas such as
agriculture, energy and care. For example, leaders have worked with the
Microgeneration Certification Scheme to secure significant funding for, and to develop,
the Herefordshire Low Carbon Technology Centre. This facility is in direct response to
a significant identified skills need from local businesses linked to low carbon and
renewable energy technologies.
Leaders have an effective understanding of the communities in which they work. They
work proactively with a range of community groups. Leaders and teachers use this
information to help plan the curriculum. In areas such as sports, learners and the wider
community benefit from these well-established links. Learners deliver coaching
sessions to support disabled young people. This supports learners to develop their
knowledge and skills and also contributes positively to the wider communities the
Leaders have a clear curriculum vision which they successfully realise to provide a broad range of programmes across the large geographical area in which they work.
This supports learners and apprentices to access local provision. Leaders are very
knowledgeable about the needs and priorities of each of the college campuses. They
provide programmes that contribute to the skills needs of the locality. In the north of
the region, the curriculum in land-based studies responds directly to the focus on dairy
farming. Whereas, in the south of the region, the land-based curriculum is focused
much more closely on arable farming. Learners and apprentices who study in these
areas develop the knowledge, skills and behaviours they need to work in this sector
Leaders and teachers use the information they gain from well-developed relationships
with employers and stakeholders across the sector areas in which they work to plan the curriculum carefully. They ensure the curriculum that learners and apprentices’
access is up to date and linked well to industry areas. Apprentices in electrical studies
develop their knowledge and skills in the use of renewable technologies such as solar
power, electric vehicle charging and ground and air source heat pumps.”
Source: Ofsted Inspection Report – October 2022
6. CONTRIBUTION TO NATIONAL, REGIONAL AND LOCAL SKILLS PRIORITIES
ANNUAL PLAN – 2023/2024
7. CORPORATION STATEMENT
This accountability statement and plan was reviewed and approved by the Board of
Governors on the 25th of April 2023.