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College Principals’ create blueprint for collaborative working to address the higher skills needs of Great Manchester.

Written on 30th June 2022

Over the past two years all nine college Principals have been working together to consider how they can further shape and develop their college curriculum to better meet the higher skills needs of Greater Manchester (GM). Working closely with colleagues from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Greater Manchester Chamber and building on existing research, through a series of strategic workshops, Principals have worked together to identify key priorities for development across specific sector areas and geographic localities.

This collaborative approach has encompassed all ten boroughs of Greater Manchester and has considered both city region and local area higher technical skills priorities. Though focused on higher technical skills at Level 4 & 5, Principals have also recognised the need for increased provision at Level 3, to enable clear progression pathways for adults to progress to the higher technical level courses and programmes of study.
Through a parallel pilot project, funded through the HTQ Growth Fund, colleagues from eight of the nine colleges worked together to test and trial this collaborative approach to curriculum development in computing. Working with employers and employer networks, to consider all aspects from curriculum design to ‘on the ground’ approach to teaching, learning and assessment to ensure a high-quality offer that meets the specific needs of potential learners and employers in their locality. Employer engagement, through Manchester Digital, and further supported by a programme of CPD for curriculum staff put quality and inclusion central to the development and to ensure future sustainable growth of higher technical opportunities in and across the colleges. This to ensure a GM wide and localised offer that provides clear pathways into high level employment for young people progressing from T levels, adults looking to change career and those in work looking to progress into higher level job roles.

In the latter phase of the project further Sector Development Groups, including representatives of all colleges and key employers, met to consider priorities in other sector/subject areas. This has led to further proposals to develop higher technical curricula in construction, health and engineering. A wider Strategic Steering Group of HE curriculum leaders oversees this activity to ensure work in sector areas aligns with wider college long term strategies and to inform and shape future collaborative curriculum development.

Looking forward, GM colleges are now well-placed to develop a coherent approach to addressing the challenges of the higher skills agenda, with a partnership model already tested and demonstrating impact. With continued national and regional support Greater Manchester aims to be a city region that leads the way in how, working in partnership, colleges can provide clear technical pathways of opportunity for all residents and a talent pipeline to meet the high skill needs of employers across the city region.

“It was inspirational to see how all the colleges are working together to meet the needs of the local Greater Manchester economy, how you are collectively working to widen participation, and the enthusiasm for HTQs and how they fit with your L4/5 technical plans.” SEO Higher Skills Team DfE