The One Doncaster plan, drawn up by an independent panel of commissioners, gives 30 recommendations for how the town’s educational and skills provision can be improved.
The recommendations were drawn up after commissioners spent 20 weeks speaking to 1,000 Doncaster people, including residents, education bosses and business providers.
According to the report,released yesterday, making the town a university location will be a ‘major undertaking’, but one which is ‘vital to the long term success of Doncaster’. Dr Ann Limb, chair of the commission, said there was a variety of ways that this could be achieved, but suggested that one way could be to offer the resources needed online.
She said: “Having a university presence in a town is very significant in terms of raising levels of aspirations and ambitions. Of course we do have some higher education here already but we are saying that creating a new type of university for the 21st century is something Doncaster could be taking a lead in. It could put it on the same footing as some of its neighbouring cities like Sheffield or Manchester.
“I think Team Doncaster and the partners and stakeholders need to work out how to make Doncaster a university city. Technology now prevails. You can make a lot of learning available online, but that will take some resource.
“There are different models of how to create a university level education. I imagine it would involve working with higher education partners, such as Doncaster College.”
Nigel Brewster, one of the commissioners behind the report, said: “Making Doncaster into a university city doesn’t necessarily mean there needs to be a building in the centre of the town that is a university. The commissioners are trying to reflect that quite often people in Doncaster tend to end their learning at 16 or 18-years-old.
“This aspect of higher education and lifelong learning is going to be really important for people to develop their skills, and for Doncaster as an economy.”
Another commissioner, Amalide Alwis, said that it was a possibility that degree level courses could be taught from the town’s colleges adding: “It’s a possibility. There are lots of ways to execute education, it’s about having the right people involved who will come together and say this is something we are going to do, this is what we need, this is what our community needs.”
Mayor of Doncaster Ros Jones, who has said the borough is a city in everything but name, welcomed the recommendation and said all the partners would have to discuss how to make it a reality.
It was also suggested that an education and skills partnership board should be set up to produce a delivery plan and ensure that the recommendations are met.
Commissioners were also keen for schools to create a range of certificates known as Doncaster diplomas to celebrate the talent of 11-year-olds in all areas of the curriculum, not just maths and English, as they progress from primary to secondary school.
They also wanted each school to be peer-reviewed, meaning each school would be reviewed by two leaders from other schools every two years.
Dr Limb added that it was ‘radical’ but ‘realistic’ for all 30 recommendations to be achieved in the next 10 years.