College for struggling teenagers will open next year, says business chief

Jim McColl hopes to roll out the initiative across Scotland
Jim McColl hopes to roll out the initiative across Scotland
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ONE of Scotland’s leading businessmen says he plans to open his new skills college for disengaged teenagers next year.

Plans for Jim McColl’s junior college in the south side of Glasgow have been held up by funding issues. But addressing headteachers at the School Leaders Scotland (SLS) conference in St Andrews yesterday, Mr McColl said he hoped the college would open in August next year.

Mr McColl, the chief executive of Clyde Blowers and one of Scotland’s richest men, said the college would initially take in 30 pupils from local schools in the south side of Glasgow.

Named Newlands Junior College, the institution will provide vocational training alongside traditional subjects such as English and maths, for S3 pupils who headteachers have identified as those likely to struggle in traditional exams.

Mr McColl, who hopes the initiative will eventually be rolled out across the country, said: “I’m kind of worried right now about these kids that don’t really engage during secondary school – the way I did. I believe we need to do something different in the education system.

“I’m looking to fund this and get it in place by August next year and get it funded for five years initially. I feel quite strongly about this, but it has taken longer than I thought.”

The college is to be funded by money from both the public and private sectors.

Earlier this year, Glasgow City Council said it had allocated £500,000 towards the project over five years and said Mr McColl’s “failure to commit” funding was the only reason the project had not gone ahead.

Asked about the funding issues yesterday, Mr McColl said: “It (the delay) is more about technicalities. We have to make sure the project fits within the Scottish education system.”