Sunderland College joins innovative careers education pilot

February 3, 2020

Sunderland College has joined an innovative local enterprise partnership pilot scheme that supports careers education in schools and colleges by bringing the workplace and classroom closer together

Sunderland College – which is part of the Education Partnership North East college group with Hartlepool Sixth Form and Northumberland College – is one of three new institutions to join the North East Local Enterprise Partnership’s pioneering Ford Next Generation Learning pilot.

Castleview Enterprise Academy in Sunderland and James Calvert Spence College in Amble have also joined Excelsior Academy in Newcastle and Churchill Community College and Norham High School, North Tyneside, on the innovative pilot programme, which sees students learn through engagement with employers.

Initially piloted in Nashville, USA, the Ford Next Generation Learning model has resulted in an almost 23 per cent rise in graduation rates and significant improvements in attainment, discipline and attendance in the district. It’s since been adopted by more than 30 US school districts.

Michelle Rainbow, skills director at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, says: “The North East region is leading the way when it comes to new approaches to careers education.

“From our successful pilot of the Gatsby Career Guidance Benchmarks to our Education Challenge programme, we have identified new ways of helping young people connect with employers so they have a better understanding of the world of work.

“The Ford Next Generation Learning pilot has been a huge success and I’m delighted to welcome another three institutions onto the programme.

“Here in the North East, we’re seeing an improvement in students’ motivation, oracy, teamwork skills and overall confidence. Students themselves have told us that they now have a much better understanding of why they are studying different topics, through linking the curriculum to real-life situations.”

As part of the North East LEP’s Ford Next Generation Learning pilot, which is delivered in partnership with education charity the Edge Foundation, students have worked with employers including Go North East and Great North Run on real projects that allow them to interact with people who work in businesses in their local area. They’ve also had the opportunity to meet surgeons, engineers and entrepreneurs.

Industry alignment support officers, recruited by the North East LEP, work directly in schools and colleges to help them better engage with local businesses and apply real-life work situations to the school curriculum. Judith Quinn, deputy principal of Education Partnership North East, says: “The positive impact of this innovative project will drive a holistic approach for the development of students’ employability skills including maths and English skills.”

Scott Palmer, Ford Next Generation Learning Community coach, adds: “We are really excited to see the partnership with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership expand with a cohort of three new education institutions in the North East. “We learn so much from all of the institutions we work with, which will help us to develop our approach and impact as we grow the network internationally.”

Education Partnership North East
The Ford Next Generation Learning pilot is part of the North East LEP’s Education Challenge programme, which aims to reduce the gap between the North East’s best and lowest performing schools and to integrate an understanding of the world of work and career opportunities into the curriculum. For more information visit:

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