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An inner-city 'learning village'

A new sixth-form college is to be established on the Shoreditch site of Hackney Community College in London's east end.

It will join the community college, a public library, an Asian and oriental cookery school, a large nursery, one of the first city learning centres which links all the borough's schools via information and learning technology, a multi-media centre and a professional sports centre on the seven-acre site.

The idea is to create "a learning village" to serve all educational levels in the community.

The new college, which will open by September 2002, will have a close relationship with the London Guildhall University.

Christine Farley, principal of Hackney Community College with about 15,000 students, said that the proposed new college would have links with her own. New models of governance are currently being evolved.

The challenge, she added, was to find ways of bringing all the partners together to ensure "truly cohesive learning" for local adults and young people.

The initiative to establish a new college is part of the Government's pln to boost the number of young people who stay on in further education and then go on to higher education.

"It is about trying to find strategies to achieve national targets," Ms Farley said. "I think what the Government would want to see is the best of the successful sixth-form colleges reflected in the new institutions."

The borough has three schools with sixth forms and at this stage cannot predict the likely effects reforms will have on them.

The college, sitting on the largest new FE campus in the country - a state-of-the-art pound;40m site - currently has some 300 16 to 19-year-old A-level students. Only about a third of Year 11 students currently go on to do A-levels in Hackney. A second challenge is to make sure that educational opportunities still exist for students of all abilities from the local catchment area.

"The important thing is to provide the greatest level of choice for young people and to make sure that those educational choices are supported in a way that means that the outcomes of students' studies are successful."

Simon Midgley

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