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Further afield

Cash pot launched for `imaginative' diversity projects

A pound;2.25 million adult and community learning fund has been set up to promote "imaginative" new projects. The Skills Funding Agency cash, which will be administered by adult learning body Niace, will be targeted at organisations which offer "non-formal opportunities and help disadvantaged groups to take up and progress in learning". Grants of between pound;10,000 and pound;75,000 will be awarded. Niace deputy chief executive Peter Lavender said: "We look forward to hearing from adult learning providers, from the private, public and voluntary sectors, and organisations which reach a whole diversity of adults and communities." The closing date for applications is Friday 10 June.

New Essex college plans back on track

Plans for a new college in Essex have been reprieved after a private training provider stepped in. The pound;7.5 million Canvey Skills Campus in Castle Point was under threat when Seevic College, Essex County Council's business partner, pulled out of the project citing "recent cuts to education budgets". But Prospects College in Essex has now agreed to step in. Building work is scheduled to begin in July, with the first students starting at the campus in September 2012. Neil Bates, chief executive of Prospects Learning Foundation, said: "The Canvey Skills Campus will make an important contribution to our mission and I am looking forward to working with Essex County Council and all our partners in Castle Point and beyond to make the new campus an outstanding success."

Isle of Wight student lands dream job at the Ritz

A talented young FE student has been offered a prestigious job as a chef at the Ritz. Isle of Wight College student Courtney Martin (pictured) was interviewed about a trainee position at the world-famous London hotel, but was offered the role of commis chef after impressing head chef Jeremy Stone. The 17-year-old said she was inspired by what she had learnt during her part-time job as a kitchen porter. "I couldn't believe it when I heard from them and it's still sinking in," she said. Courtney starts her new job after she completes her extended hospitality course in June.

Tower Hamlets College broadens vocational offering

Tower Hamlets College is launching a host of new vocational courses to strengthen its hand in the face of increased competition from local schools. The college is the first in London to offer a full-time bicycle maintenance course. New qualifications in construction, electrical installation, motor vehicles, catering, and hair and beauty will also be on offer. The expanded suite of courses is tailored to meet the skills needs of the local business community over the next decade. Attractions at a launch event at the college this week included pipe-bending, icing biscuits and making African thumb pianos.

Devon college handed pound;3.5m for flagship buildings

A Devon college has been awarded pound;3.5 million by the Skills Funding Agency for three flagship building projects. Bicton College in East Budleigh is to use the cash to create developments for teaching renewable technologies, animal care and equine training. Principal David Henley said: "The funding is a vote of confidence in Bicton College. Equine, renewable technologies and animal care are growth areas for the college and for the South West's economy." Director of enterprise Chris Lorimer said the projects would lead to "significant increases" in student numbers, and described the funding boost as "the icing on the cake" following recent improvements at the college.

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