Welbeck Defence Sixth Form College

Part of Petition - Public Confidence in the Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 4:05 pm on 30th April 2019.

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Photo of Mark Lancaster Mark Lancaster The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence 4:05 pm, 30th April 2019

As I said in my earlier remarks, this is effectively a five-year transition. The intake to Welbeck this year will be going into a two-year programme, which will be the last. That will give us two years, as we move to a more undergraduate-focused scheme, to get the new scheme right according to single service requirements. The new scheme, which will run for a period of time, will also be under review. We have not leapt to this decision—anything but—and we hope that the transfer period will allow us to get it right.

As I have said, the new scheme, like any recruitment initiative, will of course be kept under review to ensure that it is achieving the output it is designed to achieve. If it is not, we will look at it again. The final intake to Welbeck will enter in September this year, and for the final two years Welbeck remains a going concern. Over that period, we will work closely with the Welbeck contractor, Minerva, and the principal to help the contractor to support staff who are impacted and to ensure continuity of quality education to students, keeping staff, governors and pupils fully informed of any developments.

I recognise that there are concerns over the future of the Welbeck site, and I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Loughborough that it has become an important part of the local community. I can reassure her and the House that we will do all we can to secure an alternative, sustainable future use for the site. An assessment is being undertaken to determine whether Defence may itself have a use for it and, in addition, some early market testing has identified credible, prospective interest from the private education sector. It is too early to say what the outcome will be, but Defence will work with stakeholders, including the local authority and partners across Government, to seek to secure a viable future for Welbeck.