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Merger FAQ

When will the merger take place?

We engaged extensively with a range of stakeholders to discuss our plans for merger, which took place on 22nd March 2019.

Who was consulted?

FE and sixth form colleges, schools and academies, Northumberland County Council, Sunderland City Council, members of Parliament, Education and Skills Funding Agency, North East LEP, Combined Authority, Northumbria University, University of Sunderland, University of Cumbria, Newcastle University, University of Huddersfield, Lloyds Bank and Barclays Bank. Although a formal consultation has already been carried out with the general public, opinions and views are always welcome.

Did the merger proposal offer a compelling vison for the sustainability of further education in Northumberland?

The merger will deliver a dynamic, high performing regional college. It will be responsive to the needs of students and integrated into the educational and economic needs of the communities each college serves.

Did the proposal offer high quality strategic leadership and management?

Current interim senior leadership appointments at Northumberland College will be resolved and there will be an increased investment in leadership posts at Northumberland College.

How will financial viability, sustainability and value for money be secured?

The modelling of the merged college will mean financial health is ‘Good’ in 2019/20 and ‘Outstanding’ by 2021/22.

What will Governance look like across the merged college?

Northumberland College and Sunderland College will each have their own governing body, which will continue to be deeply connected in their respective local communities.

What is the impact of the merger on competition?

It is not envisaged that the merger will have a detrimental effect on any neighbouring schools or colleges. The focus is the provision of a full and coherent, high quality education and training offer.

What is the impact of the merger on the quality of provision?

The proposal would ensure the merged college is making positive progress towards achieving outstanding provision across all campuses over the lifetime of its strategic plan and thereafter.

What is the impact of the merger on students?

Students will have more choice and opportunities for progression with career routes into degree level study, apprenticeships and/or employment. Academic performance of students will be strengthened through further investment in quality, including shared learning and knowledge exchange, and there will be improvements in the student experience and enrichment opportunities. Outstanding provision for special educational needs will continue to be prioritised, alongside accessible and effective provision for English, Maths, IT and employability skills.

What is the impact of the merger on the local community?

As the only Further Education College in the county, it will protect the sustainability of the provision in Northumberland, ensuring benefit from excellent local facilities delivered by a financially secure college. The merged college’s education and training offer will align, where appropriate, to the economic growth strategy, LEP, Borderlands Initiative and Local and Combined Authority priorities. Through working with the community, we will ensure that everyone has access to the education they need and focus support on those at risk of not engaging.

What is the impact of the merger on employers?

Employers will have a key role to play in the development of the merged college, helping to shape provision and ensure that skills priorities are met both in the respective local areas. There will be employer representation on our governing body boards and a breadth and depth of robust professional and technical qualification and training routes across a wide range of employment sectors. We will take the best practice from both colleges to ensure high quality and impactful employer partnerships into the future.

What is the impact of the merger on staff?

There will be more opportunities for professional development and career progression across the entire College Group, in addition to improved networking and good practice sharing, improved financial strength and strong and experienced leadership from an accountable senior leadership team with students, staff, employers and communities as its focus.