South Tyneside College has cemented a newly-launched education partnership by committing to its success for at least another five years.
In September, we joined with Sunderland's Monkwearmouth Academy and the Foundation of Light - Sunderland football Club's education and charitable arm - to launch Monkwearmouth Sixth Form College.
The sixth form college is now set to go from strength to strength, with study options widening, after all three partners pledged to work together until at least 2021.
Jointly, we believe the timeframe will allow the sixth form to develop into one of the best performing and most diverse in the North East.
Based at Monkwearmouth Academy, it already offers a broad curriculum of A levels, vocational qualifications, and football programmes that support players into the professional game or to work as sports coaches.
To maximise potential, and to attract more post-16 students with a range of talents, abilities and ambitions – and from all parts of the region - that curriculum will widen, with additional sporting specialisms in netball, girls’ football, and rugby, planned.
Alison Maynard, Principal of South Tyneside College Professional and Vocational College, added: “The curriculum is broad and distinctive, but we want to improve that offer still further.
“Nowhere else in this region provides such an exceptional coupling of the vocational and the academic with sport.
“The sixth form is a great source of learning for students from all parts of the North East, and one even comes from as far as Morpeth around 25 miles away.
“The football scholarship is proving very successful and has attracted some hugely talented players and scholars. I expect the new sporting offer for girls to be just as successful.”
Steve Wilkinson, Executive Headteacher at Monkwearmouth Academy, said: “This contract is an important and positive step in the development of the sixth form.
“It gives the partners a wide timetable in which to work to progress it into an exceptional centre of learning.
“Our high-quality mix of A levels, vocational qualifications and sport, already provides an incredibly rich variety of learning.
“By looking at least five years ahead, we are saying to students currently still at school that Monkwearmouth Sixth Form College can meet all their long-term learning ambitions.”
Gemma Bramley, Work of Work Curriculum Lead at Foundation of Light added: “We are very excited by the development of this partnership which has already yielded fantastic results for youngsters in our region.
“We had always aimed to provide an offering that was fully inclusive for boys and girls and by extending the partnership we have been able to achieve that.”
Around 100 students have so far enrolled at Monkwearmouth Sixth Form College, whose courses are mainly run at Monkwearmouth Academy, in Torver Crescent, Seaburn Dene.
That figure is expected to triple over the next few years as the centre’s reputation for excellence becomes established.
The sixth form, created to fill a void in local further education provision, provides education which targets real jobs and professional opportunities.
Students can choose from two high quality footballing courses – one to maximise their chances of being spotted by professional club scouts, the other to teach or coach sports – and academic or vocational options.
These include A-levels in maths, English, science, computer science, business studies and languages, and vocational qualifications in business, ICT, health and social care, child care and dance.
Places for 20 students are available on the two-year footballing scholarship and coaching programmes.
The scholarship, for youngsters with ambitions to play professionally, sees them compete in the National Premier Under 19 League against the academies of top sides including Liverpool and Chelsea.
It acts as a shop window to display their skills to club scouts and US colleges, while giving them a qualification the equivalent of three A-levels.
The coaching scholarship will support those seeking a qualification to coach and teach sport professionally.
The footballers, many of whom are aged just 16 and 17, are currently joint top of their league, with on-field successes including a recent 2-0 defeat of Crystal Palace.
A-level provision and football courses are run at Monkwearmouth Academy, which has exceptional indoor and outdoor sports facilities and has a specialist sixth form teaching block.
Vocational provision is supplied through South Tyneside College and can take place at the college, Monkwearmouth or in the community, depending on course selection.
It is based on the college’s far-reaching vocational curriculum, which has been designed to meet the employment needs of students and skills demands of employers.
An open information event has already taken place to promote courses to Year 11 pupils looking for new study options for September 2017, and further events are planned.
More information about Monkwearmouth Sixth Form College is available by calling Lindsay Winter on 0191 553 5555 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org