Three Birmingham colleges could merge as a result of the area review in the city, while all three of the city's sixth-form colleges are in the running to convert to academy status, according to a leaked document.
The recommendations from the Birmingham and Solihull area review's steering group call for a radical overhaul of post-16 provision in the city, according to documents seen by the Birmingham Mail. The newspaper reports that the steering group, led by FE commissioner David Collins, will recommend that Bournville College and South & City College Birmingham merge, with the possible addition of Cadbury Sixth Form College.
This would reduce the number of colleges from the seven covered by the area review to four. If the three-way merger were to go ahead, the document recommends that all of the colleges retain their individual brands. Alternatively, the report suggests that Cadbury Sixth Form College could instead end up forming a multi-academy trust with schools in the south of the city.
It also recommends plans to convert Joseph Chamberlain Sixth Form College into an academy, and that it remains a “standalone institution, collaborating with schools and colleges in the area, and with an ambition to achieve teaching college status”.
The document also reportedly recommends that the Sixth Form College Solihull converts to become an academy and joins the Ninestiles Academy Trust, to “offer a more sustainable structure, improve quality and generate cost savings”.
The proposals will be discussed at the final steering group meeting on 4 March.
Solihull College would remain a standalone college under the proposals outlined in the document, while all of the colleges, except for the Sixth Form College Solihull, would work together to “develop a shared services offer”.
The leaked report also reveals that "Birmingham City Council is already working with schools [with sixth forms] to consider options for rationalisation".
Bournville's interim principal Michele Sutton told the Birmingham Mail that the proposed merger was a way to secure the future of the college. “I believe that this merger proposal is the best way for us to maintain the quality of education whilst the further education sector is facing continuing financial pressure," she added.