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Rescue bid at shamed college

TEENAGERS are likely to be advised to leave a Derbyshire college as it teeters on the brink of extinction.

Officials from the Learning and Skills Council are stepping in to secure the students' education after North Derbyshire Tertiary College was given a disastrous inspection report.

The LSC has asked careers service staff to interview each of the 160 students, aged 16 to 19, in a rescue mission aimed at stopping them from dropping out as a result of the inevitably damaging publicity surrounding the report.

"There is no way we are going to encourage people to think about coming back in September to continue or start new courses if we don't think they will get the quality that they deserve," said David Hughes, executive director of Derbyshire LSC.

"Where appropriate, we need to point out the shortcomings in the course and offer better-quality ones. We don't want to be spending money on poor provision."

People studying engineering and construction are among those likely to be found other places.

Students have been invited to attend briefings today and Monday as the college, acting under LSC guidance, seeks to reassure them after the Office for Standards in Education report.

"It is quite clear in the report that the college had the same sort of problems in 1997," said Paul Holmes, the local MP and a member of the Commons education and skills select committee.

"Then, the Further Education Funding Council was happy to let it muddle on. This time the LSC is in charge and it is obviously not prepared to put up with it. I very much welcome that."

It is expected that the college's courses will be taken over by one or more neighbouring colleges.

North Derbyshire's inspection report, by OFSTED and the Adult Learning Inspectorate, marked five out of nine curriculum areas, as well as leadership and management, as unsatisfactory.

Most of the 400 16 to 19 students who live in the already choose to study elsewhere, mainly at Chesterfield College. Janet Coyne, the acting principal, was not available to comment as FE Focus went to press.

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