A college is forming a pioneering partnership with a community farm to offer students a wider range of qualifications.
From September, East Durham College will start to run courses from Bill Quay Community Farm in Gateshead.
The college will initially run a full-time level two diploma in animal care at the site, but is already looking to expand into areas such as floristry and environmental conservation.
East Durham College is hoping to give students from a wider catchment area an opportunity to study courses which are usually taught from its 450-acre site at its Houghall Campus in Durham City.
Jane Pringle, head of Houghall, said she was excited by the partnership and believes it can bring a “unique experience” to the Newcastle and Gateshead area.
Jane said: “This is a really exciting new venture for East Durham College, the Houghall Campus and Bill Quay Farm.
“We believe the partnership with the farm will help us showcase the outstanding work we do with learners at Houghall and bring a whole new range of exciting courses to an inner city area of the North East. Our lecturers from Houghall have a fantastic reputation and although we are only starting with the animal care course this year, we hope to continue to build the offer at Bill Quay Farm to give potential students a wider variety of courses to enrol on.”
Principal Suzanne Duncan added that the new courses at Bill Quay can continue to add to the success rates that have been achieved at the college.
She said: “Staff at the Houghall Campus work extremely hard to make sure all students achieve the best grades possible on a huge range of courses at the site.
“Our success rate of 90% makes us the fourth-best land-based college with more than 500 students in the country for overall success rates, something that we are really proud of.
“In fact, as a whole, the college was ranked 10th out of all 224 general Further Education colleges in England.”
Craig Bankhead, transition manager at Bill Quay Farm, added: “Here at Bill Quay Community Farm, we’re really excited to be working in partnership with East Durham College.
“We believe that our facilities and livestock provide a fantastic opportunity for students undertaking the new animal care course.”
The courses that start this year from the Bill Quay Farm site are aimed at 16 to 18-year-old learners, but students aged 19 and over may also apply.
The college is running two open evenings at Bill Quay Farm tomorrow and Wednesday, August 7, from 4.30pm until 7pm.
Alternatively, for further information call 0191 375 4710.