First dedicated college for school leavers with complex needs to open near Glasgow next month

Scotland’s first dedicated college for school leavers with complex needs is set to open next month.

Fifteen young people will be part of the first instake of students at Corseford College, when it opens in September.

The college will open in a newly refurbished wing of the existing Corseford School Campus, near Johnstone.

It will begin to address a Scotland-wide void in further education opportunities for those whose needs can’t be met in mainstream colleges.

Corsefield College will open in September.

It is being launched and operated by 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 Higher Education and Further Education, Youth Employment and Training, added: “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.”

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.

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.”