T-Levels - which are studied straight after GSCEs - are being rolled out across England in a phased three-year period up to 2023. The number of courses available is set to more than double from this September.
South Ribble Borough Council’s planning committee has given the college the go-ahead to construct a new two-storey, 12-classroom building on land to the west of its Leyland campus off Langdale Road.
The facility - to be known as the Buttermere block - will be located on what is currently a small car park, but a redesign of parking arrangements on the site will lead to an overall increase of 18 spaces. The committee was told that the extra provision would be sufficient to facilitate the operation of the new block, which is not expected to lead to a rise in the 5,000 total student population at the site.
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Buckshaw and Worden ward councilor Alan Ogilvie - who has previously raised concern over the issue of parking on side roads around Runshaw - welcomed the additional spaces, but said he had been advised by the college that demographic changes over the next five years meant it was likely that there would nevertheless be a “relatively small” increase in demand for places.
He also called on the council to make enforcement visits early in the construction process to ensure compliance with a condition banning vehicles or machinery standing on the highway prior to being taken on-site.
“My fear is the combination of lots of students arriving early in the morning, [on] buses and [in] cars, at the same time as large construction vehicles wishing to gain access,” said Cllr Ogilvie, adding that the council would need to be “very confident” in a construction management plan to be submitted for approval before work can begin.
Fellow ward councillor - and planning committee member - Caroline Moon said that a travel plan for the development was a “massive let down”, after Lancashire County Council highways officers responded that they were “disappointed” with it. South Ribble Council will now require the college to provide an updated document detailing how they plan to reduce the number of single-occupancy car journeys to the site.
However, committee member John Hesketh said South Ribble should be “proud to have a college of this nature” in the borough.
“This proposal compliments the campus and fits in very well with the existing buildings,” he said.
Recommending the application for approval, planning officer Debbie Roberts told the committee that Runshaw College is “recognised as one of England’s highest-performing colleges for 16-19 year-olds and...this proposal allows for T-Level technical and vocational education in line with Department for Education directives”.
A spokesperson for Runshaw College said: "We are delighted that the planning application was unanimously approved by the planning committee. The proposed building will replace some older facilities and will therefore ensure Runshaw students continue to benefit from outstanding education in industry-standard facilities. There is no plan to increase staff or student numbers at Runshaw College as part of this proposal.
"We will shortly be publishing our Strategic Plan for the 21/22 academic year, and a key objective is to update our Travel Plan with further sustainable transport options."
WHAT ARE T-LEVELS?
T-Levels are equivalent to three A-Levels and were introduced in September last year.
They are set to the same standard as apprenticeships, but include more classroom teaching time. However, T-Levels still offer a 45-day industry placement during the standard two-year course.
From this September, T-Levels in building services engineering, digital business services, digital support and services, health, healthcare science, on-site construction, and science will be available across the country - to go with courses in design, surveying and planning for construction, digital production, design and development, and education and childcare that launched during the current academic year.
In September 2023, the full suite of T-Levels will start - a total of 24 qualifications, including accounting, catering, and management and administration.