College leader disappointed East still without Institute of Technology

East Coast College CEO and Principal Stuart Rimmer.

East Coast College CEO and principal Stuart Rimmer. - Credit: LEADERBOARD PHOTOGRAPHY

The leader of a college with campuses in Norfolk and Suffolk is disappointed the East will soon be the only area in the country not to have an Institute of Technology through the government's Levelling Up drive.

Stuart Rimmer, chief executive of East Coast College, which has campuses in Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth, said the White Paper, published this week, is "high in ambition, but low in detail".

Mr Rimmer was disappointed none of the nine new Institutes of Technology announced in the government's White Paper will be in the East of England.

The nearest new institute - collaborations between further education, universities and employers to offer technical courses - is in Essex, which is classified as being in the South East by the government.

East Coast College and others had previously tried to set up such an institute, only to be rejected by the government.

Mr Rimmer said: "The East is keen to see the establishment of an Institute of Technology to encourage students to study at higher levels and be retained in region, but government have recently failed to award one - leaving the East of England the only part of the country to not have access to one."

Norfolk and Suffolk have been named as 'Education Investment Areas'', with the two counties deemed to be among 55 'cold spots', where school outcomes are the weakest.

While no specific pots of money for Norfolk and Suffolk have been announced, the Department for Education will offer retention payments to help schools keep the best teachers.

Areas will also be prioritised for new specialist sixth-form free schools - which Mr Rimmer said was a "naive" approach and not needed in this region.

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He said: "It is positive to see Norfolk and Suffolk recognised for support in Education Investment Areas.

"The policy, however, is naive in its approach to set up new elite sixth forms. In our region there is already an over provision of 16-19 places.

"Starting new, small school, sixth forms drives competition,  not collaboration and duplication of provision that usually undermines stability."

Mr Rimmer did welcome further investment to launch new T Levels - technical based qualifications equivalent to three A levels and extra places for SEND (special education needs and disabilities) students.