Hills Road is delighted to announce it has been awarded £3.2m of the £83 million Post-16 Capacity Fund, enabling the College to invest in a new three-story study centre with classrooms at the heart of the College site, as well as brand new café and social space and washroom facilities. This investment means the College will be able to further enhance its A level provision to 16-19-year-old students from the local area by 2025.
The new building will create a 21st-century study environment for all students of the College together with additional future-focused learning facilities. It will house purpose-built spaces to accommodate the Special Educational Needs Department (SEND) by creating a student-centred space and a welcoming environment for our learners with particular needs.
The new Study Centre will be a modular building and will add to the College's sustainability credentials by delivering fossil-free heat with onsite energy generation. The funding also enables the College to further enhance its experience for students through a new, much larger student café and gender neutral facilities for the increased student numbers. With the 16-19-year-old population projected to significantly increase by 2025 within Cambridgeshire, Fenland and Huntingdonshire, the £3.2m of funding will help the already oversubscribed sixth form college to offer greater capacity to accommodate some of this growth.
Rated Ofsted Outstanding, Hills Road has been the top-performing Sixth Form College nationally since performance league tables began over 27 years ago. Every year, the College secures Oxford and Cambridge's highest state school offers, and approximately 93% of Hills students progress to Higher Education. Demand for places at the College is high and rising faster than the demographic increase.
Receiving this funding will enable the College to increase its provision for 16-19-year-olds by creating additional teaching space as well as the study, social and infrastructure facilities that growth requires. We will now be able to respond to the increasing demand for places from our community at the same time as improving the experience for all of our students with an enhanced learning environment."
Almost two-thirds of our students study one or more subjects within Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths at A level and approximately 50% progress on to higher education in STEM-related fields. The College's contribution to local and national skills shortages is significant therefore, and this funding will ensure we can provide more opportunities for young people wanting to follow either these pathways or equally those in arts, creative, social science and humanities spheres too, as this vital infrastructure will improve the experience for all our students.
Not only will this project increase capacity, but it also offers an opportunity to put inclusion at the heart of our offer and to create fit for purpose accommodation for our learners with particular needs.
The addition of gender-neutral toilets creates better facilities for our students and enhances the culture of respect and inclusivity. The lasting impact of this will be on the positive wellbeing of our whole community and making sure we are recognising and embracing the needs of everyone within it.
Our reconfigured social and café space will give our students a much better social and collaborative space, and we hope this will only further enhance students’ enjoyment of the college environment, enhancing our community feel. This is an important and lasting legacy.
The £83 million Further Education capacity fund for 2021-22 was launched to ensure FE colleges are able to accommodate the expected demographic increase in 16 to 19-year-olds. The core objectives of the post-16 capacity fund are to provide additional capacity to 16-19 providers, where there is due to be a demographic increase in learners, and there is not enough existing capacity to accommodate that increase; ensure that provision to be delivered through the additional space developed meets local and national skills requirements and is reflective of learner demand; and to do so in the most efficient and sustainable way possible, to ensure value for money for Government investment, and to support the target set by Government for the UK to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. Projects funded through the Post 16 Capacity Fund must be completed by 31 August 2022.