The Eric Wright Learning Foundation
In 2004 the South Ribble Learning Partnership (SRLP) undertook an ambitious project to develop a vocational centre specialising in construction. In our area there was no such provision, necessitating accessing courses at another FE College. This was expensive in travel, time and funding for schools and students.
A steering group was formed with representatives from potential partners, local authorities, Learning Skills Council, Eric Wright Construction, Progress Housing, LEBP, two local FE colleges and the SRLP.
This group had senior executive members who were able to make quick decisions, ensuring obstacles were overcome and momentum was maintained. From conception to the opening of the centre was under 18 months. The partners gave freely of their time and expertise, and the steering group enjoyed the excitement of purposeful meetings and tangible progress.
The Eric Wright Learning Foundation was opened in 2005 and was funded with equal contribution from 5 partners:
- Eric Wright Group Limited
- Lancashire Education Business Partnership
- The Learning and Skills Council
- Lancashire Education Authority
- South Ribble Learning Federation (12 local schools)
Premises were found on Talbot Road Leyland, which were converted by Eric Wright Construction into workshops, classrooms, offices and rest rooms.
An official opening took place on the 10th February 2006 with Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools being the Guest of Honour.
Since then approximately 750 young people of school leaving age have left the centre with a qualification in construction. Year on year the retention and achievement has increased.
The centre became self funding within 2 years of opening, and now caters for 500 students Level 1 and 2 vocational courses in a range of traditional vocational skills, such as bricklaying, joinery, electrical, and painting and decorating.
In 2006 a Young Apprenticeship Programme was introduced, offering BTEC First Diploma courses for 14-16 year old students. Due to the excellent results of the 27 young people who finished the first two year funded programme in July 2008, 8 students successfully secured full time apprenticeships, 7 went on to further their education at college and 3 secured full time jobs.
Nationally only 6 distinction stars are awarded for BTEC First Diplomas and in 2008 all 6 went to students who attend the Eric Wright Learning Foundation, with a further 4 learners (out of six nationally) achieving distinctions.