A SINGLE mother who left school with no qualifications has said she would still be claiming benefits without the help of one of three Leeds City College centres threatened with closure.
Leeds City College centres at St Bartholomew’s in Armley; Winthorpe Street, Meanwood, and Joseph Priestley at Morley couold be axed as the college seeks to make savings of more than £10m.
Mother-of four Samantha Harrower, 33, spent five years studying at the college’s St Bartholomew’s centre and went on to complete a foundation degree at Leeds University.
Miss Harrower said being able to study at a local centre which provided child care allowed her to combine gaining GCSEs with bringing up her children.
Miss Harrower, who campaigned against the closure of St Bartholomew’s nursery before it was axed last September, said she is hoping to study for a degree in politics at Leeds University and go on to be a university lecturer.
She added: “St Bartholomew’s encouraged me all the way thought to university. If it wasn’t for St Bartholomew’s I would still be sat at home on benefits, instead of looking to get a degree and further my career.”
The college’s consultation with staff and unions over the proposed closures was due to end today.
A Leeds City College spokeswoman said: “A number of factors have been taken into consideration before making proposals to close these centres – student numbers, courses offered at other college sites, and infrastructure costs along with financial viability of programmes.
“It is important to emphasise that proposed site closure does not necessarily mean closing all provision – proposals include potential course transfer to other college sites, and some courses may still be offered locally.
“Proposals for Morley including the potential relocation of foundation learning courses to another college site in south Leeds and options being explored for the St Bart’s proposal include the relocation of the teaching assistants programmes to another college site, while seeking alternative spaces for some community learning such as ESOL (English as a Second Language), English & maths in venues in the local vicinity.
“College representatives have also been in contact with local MPs and councillors, and held meetings with existing students.
“The proposed closure of any Leeds City College site does not directly lead to job losses – some courses will be transferred and some job roles protected. Some individual members of staff may be at risk if the wider college department they sit in is ‘under consultation’ as part of the current proposals being considered.
“In recent years, Leeds City College has had to look at reducing the number of community venues it operates out of as a result of continuing funding cuts to its adult budget but remains committed to promoting adult learning and skills in local communities to help provide individuals with the confidence, skills, attributes and abilities which will enhance their employability prospects.”
“The consultation process will conclude in time to inform both existing and future students about the future of what will be offered and where for September 2015.”
Leeds City College principal Peter Roberts, said: “The current financial picture necessitates a radical rethink of how the college organises its education and training for key stakeholders. There will be an impact on what we teach and where and how we deliver it - however, there will be no compromise on quality.”