Consultation begins for Easton and Otley College merger with City College Norwich

PUBLISHED: 06:30 30 August 2019 | UPDATED: 08:12 30 August 2019

Easton College campus is set to merge with City College Norwich. Photo: Archant.

Easton College campus is set to merge with City College Norwich. Photo: Archant.

Copyright Archant Norfolk 2016

A public consultation is under way for the proposed merger between Easton and Otley College with City College Norwich and Suffolk New College.

Easton College campus is set to merge with City College Norwich. Photo: Mike Page.Easton College campus is set to merge with City College Norwich. Photo: Mike Page.

Earlier this year drastic restructure plans were revealed for the land-based college following a second 'inadequate' from education watchdog Ofsted.

The proposal would see Easton and Otley College, which has campuses in both Norfolk and Suffolk, split up.

The Easton campus would join City College Norwich while the Otley half would become part of Suffolk New College.

All three institutions have been in talks to work together following a review which suggested the colleges complete a merger by the end of the year.

Today marks the opening of the formal period of consultation, during which students, parents, staff, local employers and the wider community are encouraged to share their thoughts on the plan.

Chair of governors at Easton and Otley College,  Mark Pendlington  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNChair of governors at Easton and Otley College, Mark Pendlington Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The consultation period is set to run until midnight on October 1 before a final proposal is presented to the governing bodies of all three colleges and a final decision is reached.

"This is a real call to action, and we are confident that many people will want to help and get involved," said Mark Pendlington, chairman of Easton and Otley College.

"We have spent the last two years planning how best to serve the needs of this largest sector in our growing economy, while teaching and inspiring the future leaders of the land based industry. All against a very difficult backdrop of the challenges facing further education as a whole.

"By adapting to change and driving progress, we see merging the Easton campus with City College Norwich, and Otley campus with Suffolk New College, as an exciting opportunity to become an even stronger educational resource for students, both present and future."

"We are absolutely committed to a solution that provides outstanding teaching and training opportunities, as well as strong finances to enable more investment and growth, and a truly inspiring business plan which propels the land-based industry to lead the way in the new competitive post-Brexit world of the future."

Mr Pendlington promised both current college campuses will continue to run with a 'business as usual' approach throughout the coming months for its 5,000 students while the consultation takes place.

He added: "The priority of the college board, the leadership team and all our dedicated staff is to ensure that our students continue to receive the level of teaching and learning they need and deserve, while the future of both campuses is secured."

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The future of the current college set-up first ran into trouble in May 2017 when it received an 'inadequate' rating, however it was the second damning Ofsted report in October 2018 which provided the fatal blow.

Among the areas flagged as inadequate in the Ofsted were outcomes for learners, personal development, behaviour and welfare.

Andrew Barnes, chairman of City College Norwich said: "The continuing dialogue we are having with employers from the agricultural sector gives us added confidence that land-based training in our region can and will flourish through this proposal.

"We are looking forward to widening the conversation, through this public consultation, and to hearing what all members of the local community think of our plans.

"Both City College Norwich and Easton and Otley College have a strong history, and it is our aim to maintain, develop and celebrate their individual strengths and specialisms following the merger.

"After completion, we strongly believe the wider choice of courses and increased progression routes available will provide even more opportunities for young people to achieve their individual aspirations."

Consultations will take place at Easton Campus on:

- Tuesday, September 3 (1pm -6pm)

- Wednesday, September 11 (1pm - 6pm)

- Thursday, September 19 (8am - 1pm)

- Wednesday, September 25 (8am - 1pm)

And at City College Norwich on:

- Thursday, September 5 (8am - 1pm)

- Friday, September 27 (1pm - 6pm)

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