Reaseheath College in Cheshire and North Shropshire College have announced that they are to form a federation which will benefit students, communities and businesses.
Both colleges specialise in land-based subjects and technical and vocational qualifications, are in a strong phase of continuous growth and improvement and share a long history of delivering quality education. It is felt that, by working together to combine resources, expertise and reputation, the colleges will build on their strengths and will offer an even wider and better educational experience to further and higher education students and to apprentices. It is also envisaged that the closer collaboration will have a positive impact on the local economies of both counties by providing enhanced links with industry partners and local communities.
The federation, which comes into operation this month, follows extensive research by governing bodies from both colleges. The results showed that a federation would best secure the future of quality, land based education and general technical and vocational education in Shropshire, Cheshire and the wider region.
Although both colleges are committed to working together, they will remain independent and retain their own names and campuses within the federation. With support from the Skills Funding Agency, and where it is considered to be in the best interests of the students, the governing bodies will explore closer ties in the future. This could include the possibility of a merger at a later date if the interests and circumstances of both colleges are in alignment. In the meantime, senior managers will facilitate the sharing of good practice, support and staff development across the colleges.
The new partnership is supported by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ Area Review of Post 16 Education, which is committed to a move towards fewer and larger colleges which will be more resilient and efficient in the future.
Reaseheath Principal Meredydd David said: “This fantastic opportunity will allow both colleges to move forward and to respond together to the challenges and opportunities facing the Further and Higher Education sector. Across the country, all colleges are tasked with ‘doing more with less’. We have a more important role than ever in supporting young people, local businesses and those seeking employment.
“There are great benefits to two institutions with very similar values, ambitious vision and national reputation for quality, working together. This can only benefit stakeholders, staff and students and offers an extremely exciting prospect for the region.”
North Shropshire College Principal Jackie Doodson said: “Our governing body has carried out extensive research and appraised its options rigorously. As a result, it has concluded that a partnership with Reaseheath College will best secure the long term future of high quality land based provision for Shropshire along with high quality vocational education and training for Oswestry and rural North Shropshire.
“We will share best practice to improve the quality of provision and facilities, and our strengthened financial sustainability and resilience will enable us to grow the number and range of HE and FE courses we offer.”
Header image caption: Reaseheath Principal Meredydd David and Chair of Governors Richard Ratcliffe celebrate the new federation with North Shropshire College’s Principal Jackie Doodson and Chair of Governors Gillian Richards