Public consultation over merger of three Shropshire Colleges now open
1 February 2016
The public consultation to seek views over the proposed merger between Shrewsbury College, New College Telford and Shrewsbury Sixth Form College has now opened.
The consultation is open between 1 February and 4 March, 2016 and members of the public are invited to take part by sharing their views, coming along to a public event and replying to the online survey.
The proposal is that New College Telford and Shrewsbury College would merge into Shrewsbury Sixth Form College, creating one large sixth form college group – but all three sites would remain.
The colleges feel they will be stronger together than apart in light of ongoing Government cuts and a reducing number of school leavers over the next six years. The move would see them being able to offer students in the county a richer, more varied curriculum programme with several areas of specialism, including a vibrant specialist Art School in the centre of Shrewsbury at Wakeman Hall, English Bridge Campus and a Sports and Health and Social Care HQ at London Road. These changes are proposed for September 2017 at the earliest.
Under the proposals, each college site and name would remain, each with a separate Principal. Staff and students at the three colleges have been informed of the plans and months of prior enabling work has been carried out by all three ahead of the launch of the public consultation.
The merger is also consulting on a new name – ‘Central Shropshire College Group’. The name consultation is running alongside the overall merger consultation, but crucially, each college would continue to be marketed under its current name and retain its current individual culture.
Students would continue to apply to each college and the one which best suits their needs separately and all students applying for 16/17 would start and end their course at the college they have applied to.
In a joint statement, the Principals of all three colleges, Martin Ward (SSFC), Fiona O'Brien (NCT) and Steve Wain, (Shrewsbury College), said: "We believe merger presents the three colleges with the best opportunity to offer a great curriculum with high quality, whilst keeping our finances strong. The Corporations of Shrewsbury College, New College Telford and Shrewsbury Sixth Form College, believe that the joining of three local colleges, will create a better learning experience and more progression opportunities for Shropshire’s students, than they can do apart.
“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 at 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.
"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, as a direct result of the merger, until 2017/18 at the earliest. If a merger goes ahead we are looking at a date from 31 July, 2016.”
People are invited to get involved by visiting the websites of the three colleges – www.nct.ac.uk, www.shrewsbury.ac.uk and www.ssfc.ac.uk where they will find all the information, be able to read the consultation document and take part in the online survey.
There are also two Public Consultation meetings on 22 February, from 6pm to 7.30pm at Shrewsbury College on London Road, Shrewsbury, SY3 6PR and on 24 February from 6pm to 7.30pm at The Whitehouse Hotel, Watling Street, Telford, TF1 2NJ.
Anyone is welcome to attend but admission is by ticket only. Tickets can be obtained by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org, where a copy of the consultation document can also be obtained.