Kensington and Chelsea College has confirmed it will merge with Morley College. The decision was made at a board meeting last night, and merger will formally take place on 3 February.
The two colleges announced plans to merge in March 2019 to help “secure and improve” FE provision in the community affected by the Grenfell Tower disaster. In May last year, board minutes from Kensington and Chelsea College (KCC) showed it had to revise its forecast deficit for this year – from £4.4 million to £6 million.
Background: College facing £6m deficit plans to cut jobs
More on this: Kensington and Chelsea College reveals merger plan
This is not the first time Kensington and Chelsea College has been involved in merger plans. A previous attempt at a merger with Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College was called off in January 2018, after a diagnostic assessment by FE commissioner Richard Atkins, who was called in by then skills minister Anne Milton when concerns were expressed by the local community in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster.
Last summer, it was announced that the government would make available £32.3 million in funding to support the college's recovery, including the merger with Morley College. The money would also help to buy and refurbish Kensington and Chelsea College’s North Kensington campus.
In August, the chair and vice-chair wrote in Tes that the college was facing a brighter future and thanked the staff for their commitment.
According to the KCC, the FE commissioner’s team undertook a final monitoring visit at the college, highlighting “the notable and tangible improvement to the atmosphere and culture across the college, and that college operations are well led giving a sense of calm in the build-up to merger”.
Ian Valvona, chair of corporation, said: “Yesterday’s board decision was a landmark in the continuing upturn in fortunes for the college and the communities it serves in the aftermath of the Grenfell tragedy. At the same time, the FE commissioner’s team has recognised improvements in teaching and learning and an improvement in the college’s financial situation which – together – the board and senior leadership team have been working to deliver since early 2018. Kensington and Chelsea College students deserve nothing less than the best and, through merger with Morley College London, I have no doubt that is what they will get.”
Andy Cole, principal and chief executive, said: “I am immensely proud of my staff who have remained committed to improving the opportunities and outcomes of our learners in the face of the most challenging of circumstances, and it is heartening to see this reflected in both the FE commissioner’s report and feedback from Ofsted inspectors.
“Throughout the past two years, I have been humbled by the passion and determination of campaigners who have fought so hard to preserve the best of the college’s rich history for the benefit of future generations and wish to place on record my respect for their work both before and subsequent to the tragic events of the 14 June 2017. I am confident that in Morley we have the right partner to continue our journey and look forward to working with colleagues to finalise arrangements over the coming weeks.”