Thursday, 27 October 2016

Closure of Lancaster's White Cross Adult College confirmed

Not for much longer
Virtual Lancaster can now confirm that from December 2016 courses will no longer be delivered at White Cross Education Centre, as Lancashire Country Council is redeveloping the building for a change of usage, due to government budget cuts.

We reported last Sunday (via our facebook page) that tutors at the Adult College on White Cross had been told that the building would close in nine days time.

Adult learning courses in Lancaster are delivered by Lancaster Adult Learning Ltd (LAL), which is an offshoot of Nelson & Colne 6th Form College. When VL called LAL on Tuesday at their Chorley office, they were unaware of any forthcoming change and reassured us that classes would be continuing in the new year as normal.

We called Nelson & Colne College and asked them for clarification, and they have issued the statement below, on behalf of LAL confirming the closure, but keen to reassure that they will still be offering an adult education provision in the area, which will include over 50 courses in the Lancaster area available to the public. They tell us that they see Adult Learning provision in Lancaster as a key growth area.

We asked them about the future of the assets at White Cross, which is equipped with a pottery studio and kiln, for example. We were interested to know how such facilities could be provided elsewhere.

They explained that the building remains the property of Lancashire County Council and it would be up to LCC to determine how these assets could be deployed. So we called County on Tuesday and asked them about its plans for these assets. They said they would get back to us and we are still looking forward to hearing from them.

White Cross isn't the only facility to be hit. The number of Adult Education venues across Lancashire has been significantly reduced as dedicated venues, such as White Cross, Alston Hall in Longridge, and Lancashire College in Chorley are phased out, with the loss of expensive built-in educational resources that cannot easily be replaced.

Some of the courses offered can be moved into ad-hoc rented premises, such as the Storey, but others, which depend on specialist facilities, such as IT, sciences, arts and crafts, will not be easily replaced and we have not yet seen plans to do so.

There are plans to close other local specialist services, such as Children's Centres across the area and some community mental health services in favour of more centralised, less locally accessible services at White Cross.

The reason for these cutbacks is that the County Council has sustained a massive cut to its budget (over 60% and rising) from this Conservative government. Government cuts have disproportionately targeted poorer authorities that deal with greater levels of disadvantage and low income.

This being the case, it does seems fairly impressive that Lancashire County Council is managing to deliver the services that it still does. We understand that there have been some agonising choices to be made, in terms of services to invalid, disabled and elderly people and children. Day care and home-care services have been cut back or priced out of the range of many. Libraries and museums have closed. Infrastructure repairs have been delayed. Council offices have been cleared and sold or rented. Adult education cannot be exempt. Services for these sectors don't benefit the government's corporate political donors and their overseas shareholders.

A little learning is a dangerous thing
A new / old education policy is being developed in which grammar schools will harvest a small percentage of children, those who can perform best on a single day at age 11, for more advanced education and direct the rest into more menial channels, anchored to the social station to which they were born.

Statement from Lancashire Adult Learning:

Lancashire Adult Learning (LAL) offers a wide range of learning opportunities to adults across Lancashire, to include over 50 courses in Lancaster.

From December 2016, courses will no longer be delivered at White Cross Education Centre, part of Lancashire County Council, due to building refurbishment and development plans. Any courses that have already started and are running this term will complete as planned.

Any equipment and resources belonging to LAL at White Cross Education Centre will be transferred to new venues or donated to local community partners, where appropriate.

Lancashire Adult Learning has exciting plans to expand its provision in Lancaster and is working with a number of partners and venues across the region to develop this.

Lancashire Adult Learning’s new course list will be available in December for courses running from January 2017. Courses planned throughout Lancaster range from art and crafts, to employability skills, health and wellbeing, and much more.

Courses will be delivered in a range of Lancaster venues to include University of Cumbria, The Storey Institute, Halton Mill, Lancaster Library and The Cornerstone.

Lancashire Adult Learning currently delivers over 300 courses in more than 40 venues across Lancashire. To find out more about LAL visit www.lal.ac.uk or contact 0333 003 1717.



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