East Sussex College (ESC) has revealed its three-year plan in a virtual public consultation. Through interactive displays and videos, visitors to the Virtual Town Hall can explore ESC’s exciting vision and strategic intentions, giving feedback in the process.
Alongside its Eastbourne campus, East Sussex College has sites in Lewes, Newhaven, and Hastings. This new strategy outlines ESC’s ambitious strategic intentions for the next phase of its journey and invites comments and feedback from the public.
In a recent interview with BBC Radio Sussex, Rebecca Conroy, CEO and Principal of ESC, said, “Our new strategy has allowed us to reflect and refresh on everything that we’ve done so far. We merged in 2018 [Sussex Downs College and Sussex Coast College Hastings merged to become East Sussex College] and since then we’ve had Brexit and COVID, and seen a real change and shift in the needs of the community, so our plans reflect that.”
Rebecca admits the proposed plans are ambitious, but equally, exciting. “It really does deliver,” she continues. Most importantly, they’re realistic too, as Rebecca points out, “it’s to improve and extend on what we’re already doing.”
Proposed changes to the estate will make the biggest, immediate difference, particularly in Eastbourne. Plans include reallocating existing buildings, the Brickwork centre for one, to a centralised position on campus. A new building and covered courtyard space for socialising also features. The first stages of development are due to start this month, with work being completed by 2024. College-wide, ESC has already received £1.82m from the government this year to make initial developments possible, with further stages due for completion by 2023/24. In Eastbourne, an £8m grant to refurbish and relocate sites has been submitted to the government. This will give the college a modern update and provide the best ‘in-’class’ experience for its students.
The consultation also focuses on ESC’s core offer. The college will strengthen its specialisms at each campus to ensure the curriculum offer better meets the needs of the local community, and equips students with the skills sought-after by employers, both locally and nationally. This will give students the upper hand when they finish their time at college. “We already work closely with employers to ensure what students are preparing for is absolutely what’s needed in the workplace, ” Rebecca continues. “There have been some shifts since COVID and Brexit, but we’re encouraging students to keep training and to keep working with us as we come out of lockdown fully and see what the job market is looking like.”
East Sussex College has already identified trends and needs here in Eastbourne, with clear specialisms reflecting this. “We will always offer a broad range of courses but we will develop the
courses that feed into the local community’s needs and the job market,” Rebeca explains. “Here in Eastbourne, we will specialise in Health Sciences, Construction and the Business and Visitor Economy.”
Partnerships with local employers, such as the East Sussex NHS Trust, enables the college to give students the right progression routes. Work placements were halted due to lockdown – an integral part of the learning process for students – but at the end of May, students had the opportunity to engage in a week of virtual work experience activities, to help them understand what the world of work is looking like and manage their expectations.
East Sussex College launched its Public Consultation at an exciting time, when campuses reopened to all students and lockdown restrictions began to ease. Talking about the past year, Rebecca comments, “I cannot sing the praises of our students highly enough. We have seen such resilience from them. They have adapted to different types of delivery for their lessons – some courses don’t instantly lend themselves to being taught at home, brickwork or hair and beauty for example! Tutors have been creative in how they’ve connected to students throughout lockdown, ensuring they have everything they need at home. However, we are thrilled to now be back on campus, as we can ensure students have those vital and valuable skills to take them onto the next step.”
Feedback to the Virtual Town Hall has been positive so far, with the community keen to find out about the college’s plans. In Eastbourne, the college is fortunate to be space rich, providing ample opportunities for development.
The Public Consultation is open until the end of June. The public are invited to see the plans and feedback.
East Sussex College is welcoming the (hopeful) end to lockdown later this month. Campus tours for potential students resumed on 17th May, and later this month, students are invited to Year 10 Taster Days. These take place in Eastbourne on Monday 21st and Tuesday 22nd June. Students can find out more and register now: https://www.escg.ac.uk/whats-on/taster-days/