Darlington College and Stockton Riverside College Announce Plans for Potential MergerPrint Page
The Colleges have undertaken talks over recent months as part of the Area Review into post-16 education
The two organisations are confident that by working together there is much more opportunity for growth, future sustainability and high quality provision for students and businesses.
Pat Howarth, Chair of the Darlington College Board, and Mark White, Chair Designate of the Stockton Riverside College Board, said the discussions had been very positive and in the spirit of an equal partnership, maximising the strengths of both organisations.
They said the proposals would build on the positive collaboration between the two boroughs, good transport links and a strong sense of history. The Colleges’ campuses in Darlington, Stockton and Billingham will remain and will continue to serve their local communities.
College staff were informed of the proposed merger at a series of briefings.
The Chair and Chair Designate said: “We believe there is huge potential and a great opportunity for both colleges to work together. This is a period of significant change in the Further Education sector and we are positioning ourselves to seize new opportunities for students, staff and employers across the communities that we serve.
It will be business as usual for the students and the employers the Colleges work with.
Their shared aspirations are to develop local skills and help build the local economy, with the growth of business engagement, apprenticeships, Higher Skills and Higher Education on their agenda.
The merger will enable the sharing of best practice, further opportunities for workforce development and enhanced purchasing power.
Both Colleges are financially viable and do not need to merge. They are choosing to consider this merger as they believe it is the right thing to do for the area. Efficiencies will be explored but significant redundancies are not anticipated. The proposed timescale for any change will be at least 12 to 18 months with Governing bodies agreeing on key values and undertaking full due diligence.
The proposed merger between Darlington College and Stockton Riverside College will be recommended in the FE Commissioner’s Report into the Tees Valley post-16 landscape which has been taking place over the last eight months.
Last year Darlington College was judged inadequate by Ofsted, however, significant and swift progress has been made in subsequent monitoring visits.