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What is WESP?
The Wigan Education and Skills Partnership (WESP) is a collaboration between Wigan Council, Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (WWL), Wigan and Leigh College and Edge Hill University, which was created and endorsed in 2020 by strategic leads from all organisations.
The partnership was launched in response to the Wigan Employment and Skills Strategy and aims to boost education, health and economic prospects for the borough of Wigan and to respond to the levelling up agenda.
- Raise educational aspirations working with mandatory school age, post-16 and higher education students.
- Respond to the needs of employers identifying strategies to promote and secure a skilled, local workforce for industries with staff skills shortages.
- Improve educational, health and employment life chances by increasing Level 4 and above educational attainment.
- Attract employers with higher-level technical vacancies to the borough, by upskilling the workforce with the appropriate skills.
- Increase apprenticeships and work placements, securing a talent pipeline of young people into sustainable, local jobs.
Going beyond education and skills
The partnership is focussed on long-term careers and employment for those currently at school progressing to adulthood. However, the strategic ambition is to impact beyond education and skills as the alignment of the skills agenda, with the improvement of mental and physical wellbeing, is a priority.
Raised aspirations, local career pathways and courses linked to employer need will all have a direct impact on improved life chances
Priorities and achievements
To achieve the objectives and explore the exciting opportunities for the Wigan Education and Skills Partnership, the following priorities have been created.
Each of these priorities underpin the following overarching strategic priorities:
- Shared commitment to address economic, health and social inequalities across the place.
- Help develop and shape Whole Pathway for Wigan residents.
- Collaborative events and celebrations.
- Collaborate on significant projects with an immediate focus on Haigh Hall developments for economic and social benefits.
Vision - Development of routes into initial teacher education and other education provisions including lifelong learning and professional development
- Work collaboratively with partners to align priorities and help bridge any “local” gaps in the curriculum, in Wigan and create relevant programmes (primary, secondary, enterprise).
- Ensure we create opportunities for all young people, in particular those that are looked after by the authority, care leavers and those with SEND.
- Focus on our Early Years offer, strengthening the links with Edge Hill with a view to increasing the take-up for courses and appetite for careers in this area.
- To increase young people’s preparedness for the next step of the Wigan education/career pathway.
- To facilitate the interchanging transition between attainment, aspiration, and participation.
- Up-skill our parents and adults to Level 4 qualification to boost their aspirations and career opportunities.
Achievements to date
- Programme of raising aspiration with primary schools underway
- Edge Hill University’s Tomorrows Teachers Programme is benefitting 19 young people studying education and teaching pathways in the borough
- Approval granted for BA (Hons) Primary Education with QTS delivered by Edge Hill University at the University Centre Wigan and Leigh College
Business and social engagement
- Create an open directory of businesses to increase visibility and identify opportunities with a commitment to linking to the community wealth building agenda
- Utilise Edge Hill University’s innovative tools and programmes to broaden the offer in Wigan and support our SME’s to identify their growth potential.
- Inspire and showcase collective and tangible successes through annual events and regular campaigns, passing these benefits onto our local businesses.
- Understand the future funding landscape and explore approach and objectives for any joint partnership bids.
Achievements to date
- Deal for Business has been co-designed and launched by Wigan council with local businesses
Vision - Increase and widen our talent pipeline to reduce existing and future skills gaps in our health and care workforce.
- Talent pipeline and development - Establish pathways into health and care (T levels, apprenticeships, traineeships and graduate opportunities) and link with schools and DWP on placements and pre/employment programmes
- Widening access - Look at how we address inequality, and support people to build skills and gain sustainable employment in health and social care
- Matching sustainable workforce models with education commissioning - Map our placement needs against clinical and care capacity and needs to offer sufficient placements and support, and provide placements which offer passporting, through different places and experiences.
Achievements to date
- Secured over 50 student work placements across Adult Social Care & Health at Wigan Council, WWL, and Partner Providers
- Careers programme developed by partners and delivered to Wigan & Leigh College students providing insight and aspirations around the vast roles within the sector and the multi disciplinary approach to patient care
- Health and Social Care Traineeship developed and commencing August 2022
Digital (in Health and Care)
- Promote the attractiveness of computing subjects within our schools, W & L College and EHU, to increase take-up of digital courses and retain our local talent in high value Digital careers in Wigan.
- Create a campaign and framework to promote digital skills and careers to increase participation of all cohorts in computer science GCSE, FE and HE
- Support CPD of teachers to ensure a pipeline of talent to encourage and inspire young people to increase take up and enjoyment of digital courses and future employment opportunities.
- Create a digital partnership of schools who receive open day connections etc at Edge Hill.
- Create a pathway from school, FE and HE into employment with a managed framework of placements and careers opportunities / info.
Achievements to date
- Secured 13 student work placements across Wigan Council, WWL and local businesses for digital T Level students.
- Edge Hill University Taster Sessions/Visits set up for Wigan High Schools
Leigh Sports Village
- Develop placement opportunities for students from Edge Hill and Wigan & Leigh College through LSV campus and professional and amateur sports teams networks.
- Maximise opportunities through sporting events at LSV and other onsite/adjoining assets, such as the LSV hub and Pennington Flash.
- Explore opportunities working across Healthier Wigan Partnership to develop a suite of offers around education, training & placements at LSV campus.
- Further the physical signage at LSV to elevate the profile and presence of LSV and other partnership organisations.
Achievements to date
- Volunteers utilised from partners for Women’s Euros’ including over 20 college students
- Placements delivered by Elite Sports Clubs at Leigh Sports Village providing invaluable work experience for Edge Hill University undergraduates
Who are the WESP Partners?
Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL)
Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (external link) is a major acute trust serving the people of Wigan and Leigh. Innovative and forward thinking, the trust is dedicated to providing the best possible healthcare for the local population in the Wigan Borough and surrounding areas.
The Trust aims to continuously provide safe quality care to all patients. Over £220 million is spent each year on a diverse range of reputable general and specialist acute services.
Wigan and Leigh College
Wigan and Leigh College (external link) has a long standing history in providing quality education and training. This has been achieved through exceptional teaching, support and guidance over an extensive range of academic, vocational, technical and apprenticeship courses. Each year, the college strive to provide programmes at a wide range of levels to suit all abilities.
The College has developed a wide choice of qualifications at all levels from entry level through to professional and post-graduate courses. Further Education students can choose the A Level Professional Honours Programme or vocational qualifications such as BTECs, both of which can lead to University or Degree Apprenticeships. There is also an expanding Higher Education portfolio of Foundation Degrees, Top Up Degrees, Higher Nationals and Certificates for the benefit of adult students of all ages, both full time and part time.
Edge Hill University
The award-winning Edge Hill University (external link) was founded in 1885 and is based on an attractive 160-acre campus in Lancashire, close to Liverpool and Manchester. A friendly, diverse community, offering high quality teaching, support, and transformational opportunities, it’s a place where students discover ideas, subject knowledge, and achieve their full potential.
The University’s significant success in achieving its mission is recognised by a range of awards and high rankings. It is one of a select few to have held the coveted UK University of the Year title (2014/15), awarded by Times Higher Education and Modern University of the Year (2021/22) awarded by the Times and Sunday Times.
Success and celebrations
The Centre for Advanced Technical Studies Grand Opening
The Centre for Advanced Technical Studies had its grand opening on Thursday 16th June, celebrating two years of The Wigan and Education Skills Partnership (WESP).
The Centre officially opened its doors to students in September to expand and focus on higher technical skills in skill priority areas to benefit people in the Wigan borough and beyond.
Based in Wigan town centre, opposite the Wigan and Leigh College’s Parsons Walk building, the new Centre offers dedicated space and facilities to develop future health professionals, civil engineers and digital and cyber specialists and provide the facilities for skills programmes being developed by the WESP.