Redcar & Cleveland College and Stockton Riverside College have announced plans to merge in a dynamic move that promises to bring greater opportunities and services to the area.
This exciting development will see the colleges retain their existing campuses and names – as the merger demonstrates the commitment of both colleges to their local communities and the wider Tees Valley. A key aspect of the merger is to ensure that Redcar & Cleveland retains its own college to meet the needs of local people and the local business community.
The announcement comes as a report published by education watchdog Ofsted rated Redcar & Cleveland College a grade 4.
However, both colleges, who have been in talks for several months, are confident that the merger will form part of an effective action plan to support Redcar & Cleveland College in ensuring a high-quality learning experience.
Mark White, Chair of the Stockton Riverside College Board of Governors, said: “With a shared vision and passion for our local communities and the wider Tees Valley, both colleges are confident that the partnership will create greater opportunities for learners, employers, staff and stakeholders.
“By working together, we can draw upon each other’s strengths and deep-rooted knowledge of our local areas to create a stronger and more resilient college that, whilst always remaining fully focused on our learners, is better placed to meet the demands of the wider region at a time of significant economic regeneration.”
The timing of the merger follows the formal announcement of the South Tees Development Corporation masterplan, a plan to create a world-class industrial site on the River Tees. The single biggest development opportunity in the UK, the plan aims to create 20,000 new jobs across Redcar and the Tees Valley and the merger will help position Redcar & Cleveland College as one of the key institutions to service the demand for skills and training to support the plan.
With the colleges maintaining a strong presence in their respective communities, under the proposals, both will continue to offer an extensive further education provision. A responsive curriculum will reflect the needs of all of the communities that the colleges serve, with a wide variety of full and part-time courses, apprenticeships, higher education and professional training courses.
As one organisation, both colleges will benefit from shared expertise, resources and best practice along with enhanced opportunities for future growth. The delivery of an excellent learner and customer experience is at the heart of the merger as is the growth and performance of both colleges.
Sue Jeffrey, Leader of Redcar and Cleveland Council and newly appointed Chair of Redcar & Cleveland College Board, said: “This is a really positive development both for the colleges and the area.
“We are optimistic that with shared values and ambition the merger of the two colleges will bring with it further opportunities for all of our students, staff and the employers that we work with.”
Graded Good by Ofsted and with its excellent partnerships with schools, businesses, the local authorities and universities, Stockton Riverside College is well positioned to support the wider organisation to grow and deliver its objectives.
Welcoming the move, Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen, said: “It is critical to my plans for the Tees Valley that we have excellent, financially sustainable further education provision.
“I hope that the vision and proven management ability of Stockton Riverside College will make this merger a success, and I wish them the very best of luck as they deliver their vision and plans to offer fresh hope for students in Redcar and beyond.”
The merger has also been welcomed by leaders of the public and business community.
Amanda Skelton, Chief Executive of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council said: “The announcement is warmly welcomed by Redcar and Cleveland Council. Our priority is to retain a high-quality learning environment in Redcar for the benefit of local young people and adult learners. We look forward to forming a very strong partnership with Stockton Riverside College in the future.”
The Sir William Turner Foundation has supported education in Redcar and East Cleveland for over 300 years and has a significant investment in Redcar & Cleveland College.
Peter Sotheran, Chair of the Foundation, said: “We are very much looking forward to this exciting new chapter in the college’s history. It will create a completely new set of opportunities for young people in Redcar.”
Professor Mark Simpson, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Teaching) at Teesside University said: “We very much welcome this partnership and see it as a positive step for the regional college network.
“Teesside University has been working in partnership with the Tees Valley further education colleges for more than 20 years in a strategic partnership to meet the needs of the economy and the aspirations of local communities and individuals.
“We look forward to working closely with both Stockton Riverside College and Redcar & Cleveland College through this dynamic new partnership and will continue to provide a wide range of progressive routes into higher education for all of their students.”
Leader of Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, Councillor Bob Cook, said: “Stockton Riverside College provides many of our young people and adult learners with first class opportunities which help them towards achieving their ambitions for the future.
“We are very fortunate to have such a good college in the Borough and wish it well with the merger as it continues to go from strength to strength.”
The proposed merger is planned to be complete before the start of the next academic year in August 2018.
It will remain business as usual for all students, apprentices, and employers who work with the college.
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