We’ve recently published our strategy for the newly-formed Milton Keynes College Group, and if one phrase encapsulates our goals and ambitions it is, fairer futures for all.
This strategy is the culmination of our long-felt determination to be an organisation to provide opportunities for as broad a range of people as possible, to be a college for all our community, not just part of it. This desire to contribute to society in as many ways as possible is exemplified by the fact that we’ve signed up for the Good for me Good for FE campaign. It’s a pledge whereby colleges will help to fill local food banks and contribute to a national target of a million pounds worth of volunteering. We’re also striving to improve equality of opportunity for all through our FE Voices programme, bringing students, teachers and non-teaching staff together to tell their stories so we can better understand how race, sex or disability impact their prospects, in and out of work.
Building Fairer Futures
To these ends, the businesses within the group will deliver education and skills training in distinct but linked areas. The College will build on its growing reputation and record of success which has seen it achieve ratings of “Good” both in education provision and financial health. The newly opened South Central Institute of Technology will instil in its students those digital skills so in need in the country, and particularly this region, giving them opportunities for high-value careers of the future. Our prison education arm will work collaboratively with employers to prepare people in custody for successful and sustainable employment on release. Our commercial enterprises – the Brasserie Restaurant, the Graduate Salon and Barbers, Sport Central and Little Explorers Day Nursery – will continue to provide excellent services for their customers and real work experience for learners in a genuine business setting.
Along with our communities, partners and the wider world, we continue to confront the complexities of the Coronavirus pandemic which has thrown a harsh light upon the inequalities which so greatly diminish the life chances of some communities. Vaccination can make us safer from disease but no inoculation yet exists for poverty and deprivation. We know we cannot resolve unfairness and inequality on our own and working with partners and employers who share our ambitions will help us become more accessible to those individuals and communities that find it difficult to take the opportunities we can provide.
Creating this strategy document has given us the opportunity to refocus our minds on what we are actually for. It sums up our purpose as to, “inspire positive social change in the people and communities we serve through delivering exceptional learning experiences to transform lives, achieving our vision of a fairer future for all.” We will measure ourselves over the lifetime of this strategy by our success in achieving a number of central aims which are to:
• Drive aspirational, innovative and student-focussed educational experiences
• Deliver the skills needed by employers to aid productivity
• Develop meaningful partnerships to grow our influence and create opportunities
• Promote and live fairness, equality, diversity and inclusion
• Achieve and maintain financial and operational sustainability
• Create organisational unity around our shared vision and purpose
We know that acquiring technical and professional skills can improve people’s life chances through opening up inspiring careers, filled with potential. Milton Keynes is one of the fastest-growing cities in Europe and positioned as it is in the middle of the Oxford to Cambridge Arc, where government is focused on growth and innovation, the opportunities are exciting. All elements of the MK College Group will play their part. While each will retain their individual personalities the Group structure will enable them to work in their specialist areas while connecting with stakeholders including businesses and other public bodies in a fully coordinated way. Its existence will help us to continue to grow our regional and sector reputation and influence.
The Further Education sector is being placed front and centre of national economic strategy in a way it has never been before. The government white paper for FE, published in January 2021, identifies colleges as pivotal for the creation of “local skills improvement plans” and this is an area where those relationships with businesses and employer organisations across the Group will be key. It is essential for those external stakeholders to get involved, to help shape the curriculum to ensure that we are teaching the skills and knowledge they need in their workforce. If we can build on strong relationships and maximise the advantages of our geographical location the MK College Group can aspire to become a flagship institution in delivering the white paper’s aims, and providing genuinely fairer futures for the people we serve.