The Bolsover constituency currently has no further or higher educational facilities - meaning children born in Bolsover are subject to a postcode lottery in terms of their life chances. Although Bolsover is surrounded by provisions in neighbouring constituencies such as Outwood Post-16 or North Notts College in Worksop (Bassetlaw) and North Notts College in Mansfield, as well as Netherthorpe Sixth Form in Staveley (North East Derbyshire) and Chesterfield College. All these provisions are hard to access in terms of both of cost and travel times.
One of my main priorities as the Member of Parliament is to provide post-16 provision within the constituency by creating a site in Bolsover Town by working with The Bolsover School. The site would be centrally located in the constituency, build on the ‘Good’ Ofsted rating secured by the school, give those children from low-income family’s opportunities to further their education locally, address the local skills crisis, and ultimately, give our children the best possible start in life.
The area previously attempted to rectify the lack of post-16 provision with the Aspire Sixth Form, which lasted for two years from 2014-2016, however, it operated across four schools from a large geographical area and had no fixed based. Therefore, issues regarding transport to locations remained.
In 2022, presented the former Education Secretary with a report on the cost and times of journeys from villages in the constituency to local colleges and sixth form. It highlighted how 10 out of the 13 major settlements in the north of the constituency would all be better served by a post-16 centre in Bolsover.
The report outlined that despite provision in neighbouring constituencies being closely located they are still costly and difficult to access for the vast majority of pupils - who mainly rely on public transport.
From the Bolsover School alone, 70% of students attend Chesterfield College or West Nottinghamshire College, which primarily focus on vocational courses rather than academic, and the lack of direct, reliable, and speedy bus services (most students will spend between 30-60 minutes travelling) severely restricts accessibility for the vast majority of students who reside in the north of the Bolsover Constituency.
By having a static site in Bolsover with a direct affiliation to the Bolsover School, as well as being within 15 minutes travel time for students attending Heritage High School and Shirebrook Academy, the proposal is well placed to address the failings of previous attempts to establish post-16 provision, whilst capitalising on the opportunities the current circumstances provide and without negatively impacting existing settings that offer more vocational courses.
One of my main priorities as the Member of Parliament for Bolsover is to provide post-16 provision within the constituency. The Bolsover Post-16 Centre would be centrally located in the constituency, give children from low-income family’s opportunities to further their education locally, address poor KS4 and KS5 education levels, and ultimately, give our children the best possible start in life.
I got involved in politics to make a difference, to help create opportunities to those who are forgotten, to give a voice to those who are unheard, and to provide life chances to everyone no matter where you grew up or what has happened to you in your past. If we are serious about levelling up and providing equal opportunity regardless of geography, then post-16 education in the heart of the Bolsover Constituency is a vital piece of the jigsaw.