Rory has convened a meeting with representatives from Appleby Heritage Centre and Carlisle College to discuss the future of the centres’ apprenticeship programme. For many years Appleby Heritage Centre has been working in partnership with Carlisle College to provide apprenticeship opportunities to young people across the Eden Valley, but the centre’s future and its ability to delivery apprenticeship programmes was thrown into doubt following the merger of Carlisle College with Newcastle College in April 2017, when their application to Newcastle College was unsuccessful, and Carlisle College ceased sub-contracting.

After visiting Appleby Heritage Centre in May, Rory Stewart vowed to help and immediately wrote to the Minister for Education, Anne Milton, requesting to meet her in Westminster to highlight the importance of the centre and ask for her help to allow it to continue providing apprenticeships to young people in the Eden Valley. On receiving advice from Anne Milton and her private office, Rory Stewart then chaired a meeting with Principle of Carlisle College and Appleby Heritage Centre in Carlisle to try and find a solution.

During the course of the meeting the group discussed the challenges and limitations of providing apprenticeships from Appleby Heritage Centre and how these challenges might be overcome. Carlisle College have subsequently agreed to try and provide a ‘transition contract’ with additional funding to give Appleby Heritage Centre more time to look at some sustainable options with support from the college. Eden District Council have also offered to provide support and discussions are ongoing as to how this might look.

After the visit ​Rory Stewart said: “I am very grateful to Carlisle College for listening to our concerns, and for their offer of help. Appleby Heritage Centre is a truly unique facility, a learning centre that has utilised the most extraordinary heritage space in a way that educates, employs and conserves: it is yet another local success story, and I know of no other similar place that exists. It has responded with flexibility, imagination and innovation to a changing world of education, and made sure that hands-on vocational training continues to feature strongly in young peoples’ lives. It is terribly important to the community that the centre can continue to operate and that school leavers in Appleby and the surrounding rural communities can continue to access high quality education and apprenticeships, and I am thrilled that Carlisle College and Eden District Council have recognised this and are offering their much needed support.”

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