Under-pressure Oswestry college launches measures for successful future
An Oswestry college which is facing financial pressures is launching a range of measures to ensure its future.
Derwen College, which provides education for students with learning disabilities, is hoping to open a hotel and a caravan site, which would bring in much-needed funding.
It is also promoting its respite short break holidays for young people.
The college says it has been badly affected by the implementation of the Childlren’s and Families Act, 2014 which makes local authorities responsible for students’ education rather than the funding coming from a central pot.
Chief Executive, Ruth Thomas, says parents now have to battle with their local authorities so their children can study at Derwen College.
“If they have the energy to go to tribunal they will probably get a place, but they shouldn’t have to,” she said.
The college, deemed outstanding by Ofsted, is hoping to build on its work experience partnership with Premier Inn to open six hotel rooms at Derwen, to the public.
It would also like to create a touring caravan site, with possible glamping pods, in woodland on the campus.
Already popular is the college’s garden centre, cafe and restaurant, used to give students valuable training and work experience.
Short breaks at the Derwen will be the subject of an open day on August 23.
Mrs Thomas said: “Young adults aged 18 to 25 years of age to enjoy a break at Derwen.
“Guests can take part in a range of activities and trips, as well as making use of the campus facilities. Holidays can be a great opportunity to relax with friends, meet new people and explore local attractions.
“Experienced care staff will be on hand to provide support when required and ensure that all guests get the most out of their break.”
Earlier this week, the college received support from North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson.
He said: “It is a unique and transformative place, making a massive difference to the lives of young people and their families.
“At one time these young people would simply have been abandoned on benefits and left without hope of leading fulfilled lives.
“Now, the experience they gain at the Derwen means that many of its graduates are gaining the satisfaction and fulfilment which comes from paid work, including through a dedicated training centre with Premier Inn.”