The first merger between two sixth-form colleges in 18 years has been approved by governors.
After a three-month consultation process, governors from Prior Pursglove College, Guisborough, and Stockton Sixth Form College have decided that a merger would provide both colleges with the best opportunities to continue and improve FE provision in their area.
According to the Sixth Form Colleges’ Association (SFCA), the last merger between two of the institutions was in 1998, when North Bolton Sixth Form College and South College, Bolton, merged to form Bolton Sixth Form College.
An application has now been forwarded on to education secretary Nicky Morgan for approval. The date proposed for the incorporation of the new sixth form college is 1 April 2016.
Paul Gavens, chair of governors at Prior Pursglove College, said: “The last few months have provided us with an opportunity to consult staff, students, parents and our local communities on a proposal to merge Prior Pursglove College and Stockton Sixth Form College. Both governing bodies are unanimous in their support and firmly believe in the benefits of this proposal to staff and stakeholders, but most importantly, current and prospective students.”
Margaret Hirst, chair of governors at Stockton Sixth Form College, added: “The last few years have brought about unprecedented pressure on public sector spending and the government has itself since moved to review post-16 education, announcing last July a wave of area reviews to look at creating 'fewer, larger, more resilient and efficient providers'.
“The post-16 landscape both locally and nationally is changing, and we view this merger as a positive, beneficial step which will secure the sustainability of both centres for the longer term."
Joanna Bailey, principal of Stockton Sixth Form College, will become interim principal at Prior Pursglove College and oversee the strategic direction of both sites.