Council hears of ambitious plans for growth

City Council leader, Councillor Nick Forbes and Council Chief Executive, Pat Ritchie were given a tour of NCG's Newcastle campus and outlined the latest developments at Newcastle College and adjoining land in the heart of the city's Discovery Quarter.

NCG Chair of Governors Jamie Martin and Chief Executive Joe Docherty led the tour of the latest developments including the newly opened £25m Newcastle Sixth Form College, the only purpose built sixth form in the region.

They also saw progress on building the engineering and technology based Discovery School which opens next September and will provide up to 720 places for youngsters aged 14-19 who want an education focused on these skills.

Next on the re-development agenda for NCG is the refurbishment of the former sixth form , the Parsons Building - a 1970s tower block which will be completely reclad, new external glass lifts added and an interior to match modern education and training needs.

And the Council chiefs heard about the new gateway building on the site of a former car dealership opposite Discovery museum which will be an impressive new entrance to the campus, complete with a high-tech library and flexible learning spaces.

The council and the college are also working closely to develop a skills hub within the City Library. The hub will provide to employment and training support for people of all ages and will have a strong involvement from businesses across Newcastle.

On the visit Council leaders also saw the College's impressive Lifestyle Academy complete with its own restaurant, hair and beauty salon and spa which teaches chefs, hairdressers, beauticians and travel industry staff of the future. That was followed by a sample of the singing, dancing and acting skills taught at the Performance Academy, which has helped train stars such as Joe McElderry and Perrie Edwards from Little Mix.

Although its head office is in Newcastle,  NCG has grown to become one of the largest education and training providers in the UK working with 100,000 learners every year at 45 locations nationwide. It is a not for profit organisation made up of five divisions - Newcastle College, West Lancashire College, the Intraining Group, Rathbone and Newcastle Sixth Form College.

Joe Docherty said: "As a forward thinking education and training group with its roots in Newcastle we are committed to working with local employers to deliver the skilled workers of the future they need to keep the region's economy buoyant.

"We are not standing still and with new projects like Newcastle Sixth Form, Discovery School and major improvements to Newcastle College on the way we are committed to investing in the skills we need in the North East."

Council Chief Executive Pat Ritchie said afterwards: "We're proud to be working so closely with NCG on a range of projects across the city. The college is taking a key role in regenerating the area around its campus, providing much needed investment and creating jobs and that's an initiative we fully support.

"It's also good to see both our organisations working in partnership to develop and run community assets like our libraries. By working together we can both save and radically change existing services. I look forward to more successful joint working over the coming years."