Three Shropshire colleges propose merger

11 November 2015

Three Shropshire colleges propose merger to create largest Sixth Form College in the country

Shrewsbury College, Shrewsbury Sixth Form College and New College in Telford have announced plans to discuss a proposal to merge, creating a single Sixth Form College group.

Staff at all colleges have been informed of the possibility, which has come about after all three colleges felt that federation, whilst still an available option, would be difficult to achieve and have limited opportunities to improve financial performance.

The new Sixth Form College group will consult on a new name but crucially, each college would continue to be marketed under their current names and retain their current individual cultures. Each college would be led by a Principal and students would continue to apply to each college separately and the one that best suits their needs.

This move would pre-empt the Government's Area Reviews, which are seeking to create fewer and larger colleges nationally, and its agenda to support the creation of curriculum specialisms. Under the proposals, each college site would remain and the separate principals would work with the "Group" Chief Executive.

The plan would see the group become a major employer in the region and having a major procurement role.

In a joint statement, the Principals of all three Colleges, Martin Ward (SSFC), Fiona O'Brien (NCT) and Steve Wain, (Shrewsbury College), said: "We are seeking to create a new college structure for Shropshire which allows each college to continue to specialise and improve. Each college offers a distinctive curriculum in separate locations and we believe that this merger proposal is the best way for us to maintain the quality of education when the post 16 sector is facing continuing financial pressure."

"Consideration for staff and students is one of the principal reasons for proposing a merger model. Staff will have the opportunity to discuss and comment on these proposals and by designating as a sixth form college we aim to show colleagues that their current employment terms and conditions will be best protected.”

"The proposal includes plans to create several ‘centres of excellence’ including the creation of a vibrant specialist Art School in the centre of Shrewsbury at Wakeman Hall at the English Bridge Campus and Sports HQ at London Road.”

"Regardless of the duration of their course, current students at all three colleges would be able to continue with their course at the college they have chosen and we wouldn't expect to see any changes to full-time courses until 2017/18 at the earliest. If a merger goes ahead we are looking at a date from August 1, 2016 and internal and external consultations will commence in early 2016."

Three Principals discuss the merger proposals on Radio Shropshire