No threat of asset-stripping

25th May 2001 at 01:00
THE "real test for Ealing" (FE Focus, May 4), will be the extent to which all parties (Ealing Tertiary College, Ealing Council, the Learning and Skills Council, and our chosen merger partner, Hammersmith and West London College), work together to put the lifelong learning needs of the local community and businesses first.

As an Ealing Labour councillor, I am surprised that this issue appears to be assuming national prominence, since it has never, to my knowledge, been debated politically in Ealing.

As the new chair of governors at Ealing Tertiary College, I have one simple aim, and that is to work with our acting principal, to bring about a rapid and fundamental improvement to the quality of learning we provide, the management systems and resources we use, and our financial health.

As a governing body, we have chosen merger with Hammersmith and West London College because they meet key criteria. They have committed themselves to keeping all three main college sites in Ealing, to investing much-needed millions in modernisation, and to establishing through partnerships a new network of neighourhood "learning villages".

They have proposed a new college identity that includes the name of Ealing, as well as individual site identities that strengthen their local focus. With us, they will develop a governing body membership that is properly representative of the area, and this will be supplemented with local consultative councils for each site.

They will retain coherent strategic planning and collaboration along with other key local partners for Ealing. They will work with local partners to strengthen, expand and improve full-time provision for 16 to19-year-olds; and they have the financial, managerial and governance strengths, as well as the track record, to make this plan work.

Under this proposal there is no threat of asset-stripping and no risk that local identity or accountability will be weakened. On the contrary, our merger proposal will protect and improve the assets for lifelong learning in Ealing, and local accountability will be much strengthened.

Julia Clements-Elliott

Chair, Ealing Tertiary College Corporation, Acton Centre, Mill Hill Road London

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