Two Shropshire Colleges – One future and a shared vision

New College Telford and Shrewsbury College could be set to federate – a partnership which would see both colleges remain independent but able to strengthen their place in the market and grow their provision for the communities they serve.

This voluntary process was initiated by New College Telford, with Shrewsbury College receiving the news yesterday (WEDNESDAY) that it was the preferred choice. Staff at both colleges have been informed and the colleges will now enter into a period of discussions and consultation with staff and each other. Due diligence would then follow in a process which ideally will be completed by the end of the 2015.

The colleges are seeking to strengthen their expertise in their subject areas in order to grow provisions and extend their reach, while also growing community and employer links. The Federation will see a pooling of resources, shared best practice and many more advantages that will benefit students at both colleges enormously.

Fiona O'Brien, Acting Principal at New College Telford, said: “We decided to seek a partner college to help New College realise its vision for growth, whilst accepting that under the current funding climate, working with a partner will improve our capacity to improve further.

“We decided to move forward with Shrewsbury College because we felt that their vision for the future was most closely aligned with our own, as well as being innovative and demonstrating areas of growth for existing subject areas and how they could be developed in the future at each campus.

“It’s important to note we are still only in discussions and if both colleges agree to federate they will remain independent and any students applying to either college to start in September 2015 and 16 will be unaffected for the duration of their course.

“We are very excited to be in a position to discuss a move which would only strengthen both colleges and look forward to seeing where discussions lead over the coming months.”

Principal of Shrewsbury College, Steve Wain, said he was “delighted” that Shrewsbury College’s ideas for future growth and consolidation for the broader Shropshire area were in line with those of New College’s.

He said: “This move is about protecting each College and consolidating our joint provision and we don’t expect any teaching staff will lose their jobs as a direct result of these plans. The basis of working together is to have two well-established campuses in the largest two county towns and the plans show we can expect an extension of some areas including Apprenticeships plus it is hoped that ‘centres of excellence’ would be created at each site where provision is strong.

“This is not about one college trying to take control of another, and curriculum and quality control would remain separate at each college. This is about a shared vision for the county and the creation of a £23m group with a regional reach.”

Fiona O’Brien added: “Each college already has a strong provision set for 16-18 year-olds, which we believe will complement each other well, and discussions so far have highlighted how each College could grow geographically as well as growing educational programmes including HE and professional qualifications if we federate. We will be in a position to make more details known when the discussions progress.”

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