College Closure
Herefordshire College open as normal
Herefordshire College open as normal Tuesday 12th March 2024

Accountability Statement

1) BACKGROUND

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

Herefordshire College is a large centre delivering vocational qualifications in the city of HerefordIt 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 centre.       

Holme Lacy College

Following the disaggregation of the Pershore group of colleges, Holme Lacy College was incorporated into the College structure in 2007.  Situated approximately six miles from Hereford, Holme Lacy College and its associated ca.300hectare commercial farm, Pound Farm, is the country’s only fully organic further education facility and continues to deliver a broad portfolio of land-based courses.   

 Holme Lacy is one of only three centres in the UK approved to train apprentice farriers and is home to the National School of Blacksmithing.   

Holme Lacy also hosts the College’s newly constructed Low Carbon Technology Training Centre.     

Ludlow Sixth Form College

Based in the centre of the south Shropshire market town of Ludlow, 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.  

County Training

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.  

Walford College

Walford College is a ca.300hectare dairy farm and agricultural campus offering a range of landbased 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. 

North Shropshire College

North Shropshire College is located in the north Shropshire market town of OswestryThe College 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 2023-2024, 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 partner. 
  • 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 well-qualified 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

Geography

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 188,700 residents of Herefordshire, over half live in rural locations (100,800 – 53%). The principal population centres are the cathedral city of Hereford (61,900), and the market towns of Leominster (11,900), Ross-on-Wye (11,100), Ledbury (9,600), Bromyard (4,700) and Kington (3,700).    

Shropshire (excluding Telford and Wrekin) has a much larger population of 306,100; 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).   

Economy

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 were: manufacturing (19%), distribution, transport and communication (17%), real estate activities (17%) and public administration, education, health and other services (15%). These four sectors made 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 and education.  

Shropshire is remarkably similar: 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.   

 

Education

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.   

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.  

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 

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
states:

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 education opportunities.  Work is underway to broaden the range of higher technical courses available locally.   

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 need. 

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 the UK. 

We support specialist training 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 and arboriculture. 

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 underpinned by local workforce data.  This ensures 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 influence the curriculum by providing 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 Local Skills Improvement Plan and local authorities’ economic strategies.  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 Economy and Place Board, 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.  

More recently, the College has developed provision to train plumbers and electricians to install low carbon technologies including ground and air source heat pump systems and solar energy generation systems.      

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. 

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 substantial employer-focused projects funded through the DfE’s Strategic Development Fund and Local Skills Improvement Fund.  

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 hosts a dedicated University Centre developed in partnership with the University of Worcester.  This relationship facilitates and promotes the 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 businesses. 

Before its closure, the Marches LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) 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. 

6. CONTRIBUTION TO NATIONAL, REGIONAL AND LOCAL SKILLS PRIORITIES

ANNUAL PLAN – 2023/2024

7. Local Needs Duty

Governors regularly review the College’s provision.  The current strategic plan, approved by the Corporation in 2021, acknowledges our role in providing a broad range of courses to serve the needs of our rural, sparsely populated and widely distributed population.  This has resulted in a number of key strategies that underpin the College’s curriculum.  Examples include:  

  • Balancing departmental contribution rates across campuses so that the broadest range of vocational options are available to students in both Herefordshire and Shropshire. 
  • Maintaining expensive provision that is important to the local economy including agriculture and other key land-based industries. 
  • Maintaining niche provision of national importance such as Blacksmithing and Farriery. 
  • In Hereford, the College chooses not to deliver programmes well served by our neighbours, Hereford Sixth Form College and Hereford College of Arts.  In Shropshire, North Shropshire College no longer delivers A Levels as a comprehensive offer is already available locally. 
  • The withdrawal of adult provision from towns served by other providers.  This includes the closure of small delivery centres in Telford and Whitchurch.   
  • Governors have agreed to support the development of new provision that aligns with national, regional and local priorities but is not currently delivered others.  This includes their approval to make a significant investment in the development of the LCTTC (Low Carbon Technology Training Centre) at Holme Lacy College. 
  • Governors supported the decision to work in partnership with other local providers to develop curriculum that addresses identified local skills needs.  Recently, major projects have included two SDF (Strategic Development Fund) programmes and two LSIF (Local Skills Improvement Fund) programmes. 
  • Governors approved the decision to join the Black Country and Marches IoT (Institute of Technology).  

 

Governors have established a rolling three-year programme to review the College’s curriculum.  In addition to this, annual and ad-hoc changes are discussed and agreed by the Corporation’s Curriculum and Quality Committee.   

The Chair of the Corporation meets regularly with the chairs of other local colleges to discuss the local educational landscape and opportunities for collaborative working.

8. Corporation Statement 

This accountability statement and plan was reviewed and approved by the Board of Governors on the 26th of June 2024. 

Tables and chairs inside at the HLNSC North Shropshire College.