Funding from Scottish Government
Essential funding from the Scottish Government means the first dedicated college for school leavers with complex needs will open its doors in September.
The creation of Corseford College will be transformational for the lives of 15 young people who will become its first intake of students.
It is being launched and operated by respected charity, Capability Scotland which has already invested £250,000 into the project – with a further £316,000 now pledged by the Scottish Government for the first-year of delivery.
Brian Logan, chief executive of Capability Scotland, said: “We have been working for some time on the development of this landmark college, but the strong support of the Scottish Government is a huge boost.
“We can now have a real sense of confidence about the future of this project and our hopes that it will continue to enhance the lives of young people with complex additional support needs for many years to come.
“Being able to offer those young people the chance to continue their education after they leave school is not just amazing for them, it is also incredibly important to their families and loved ones. We have had an outpouring of positivity from families at the news.”
Jamie Hepburn, minister for Education, said: “Corseford College will help transform the way many young people with complex needs access education.
“I was delighted to work alongside partners at the Scottish Funding Council, West College Scotland and Capability Scotland for the funding of the pilot college model, which has made this specialist institution possible.
“I wish all of the students of Corseford College every success as they start in September, and I look forward to hearing more about their learner journeys.”
The college will open in a newly refurbished wing of Capability Scotland’s existing Corseford School Campus, near Johnstone in Renfrewshire. It will begin to address a Scotland-wide void in further education opportunities for those whose needs can’t be met in mainstream colleges.
Already places have been allocated and educational experts are refining the main planks of the curriculum, which will offer bespoke learning for each of the 18-25-year-olds. Courses will focus on helping learners to master literacy, numeracy and tech skills, as well as communication and interpersonal skills and health and wellbeing. The curriculum will deliver creative experiences, physical development and independence skills including shopping and cooking.
Logan added: “Our students will enjoy a rich and tailored college experience underpinned by the work of a dedicated care and support team.
“Crucially, our students will each develop skills to interact with the wider world. Helping them to make themselves heard and understood can empower them to live more independently.
“An essential part of any college experience is participating in social, leisure, community and citizenship activities. Corseford will be no different. Our young people will have the best possible chance to develop meaningful relationships with other students and with staff.”
The main social hub of the college will be a student bistro, created as part of the circa £250,000 refurbishment. The campus will also offer sensory suites, a specialist pool, rebound therapy using full-sized trampolines and outdoor learning spaces, including horticultural polytunnels for all-weather gardening.
A large number of specialist colleges operate in England and Wales, including 46 with a similar model to Corseford College. However, the lack of provision in Scotland has seen 51 young Scots with complex needs moving to England for specialist further education in the past five years.
It is hoped the launch of the college will help the Scottish Government to deliver on its Young Person’s Guarantee, which pledges to connect every 16-24-year-old with a job, apprenticeship, further or higher education, training or other opportunity.
To get up and running the college is currently recruiting lecturer staff, tutors alongside care and support staff.
The charity is so confident that there is pent-up demand for this provision in Scotland that it is already carefully eyeing other potential sites to roll out similar colleges in other parts of Scotland. Mr Logan added: “There is a clear and urgent need to address the lack of further education opportunities for so many of our young people in society. “
The plan for Capability Scotland, which celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2021, is to increase to 25 students in year two’s intake. The charity already delivers exemplary care, support and education for disabled children and adults across Scotland.
Founded in 1946, it has always strived to be a major ally in supporting disabled people to have full equality of opportunity and participation as citizens of Scotland. It now provides direct support to more than 800 individuals through day and residential schools, residential care, housing support services, home care and a range of day opportunities in the community and local Capability Scotland hubs.