College axes local centres

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ADULT education courses at five community centres are to be relocated to the city centre from September in response to expected funding cuts of £4 million at Sheffield College.

Around 1,000 people will no longer be able to take classes at Darnall Education Centre, Prince Edward Primary on the Manor, Tapton School at Crosspool, Tinsley Community Centre and Vestry Hall in Burngreave.

The only local centre still offering courses will be at Fir Vale, with the rest moved to the Sheffield City College campus at the bottom of Granville Road.

The college rents space at the centres to run part-time and evening classes, although many are already based at the Hillsborough, Norton, Peaks and City campuses.

Courses hit by the changes will include English classes for speakers of other languages, adult literacy and numeracy, modern foreign languages and art.

Thirteen lecturers will also be affected, with some expected to seek voluntary redundancy.

Cuts to funding for courses in English as a second language and adult literacy and numeracy could add up to a reduction of more than £1 million.

College chief executive Heather MacDonald said: “Sheffield College is facing an anticipated £4 million Government funding cut for the next academic year.

“As a result we are relocating and reducing some of our courses for adults where the impact of these national cuts is hitting the hardest.

“Pulling back from community-based provision has been a difficult decision especially where the withdrawal of funding for literacy and numeracy skills is concerned. These courses enable a wide range of people including asylum-seekers and refugees to gain access to essential services and progress into jobs and higher education.

“We are consulting with the voluntary sector to see if they can assist with supporting some of the gaps in provision, particularly for English for other language speakers.”

Sheffield Greens attacked the decision, saying important courses would be hit by the changes

Co-chair Bernard Little said: “Sheffield will lose nearly all of its community education centres. They are vital for many parents who are able to improve their skills during the day and still get home in time to pick the children up from school.

He added: “Making experienced teachers of English as a second language, numeracy and literacy redundant is a criminal waste of talent.”