College will be broken up and merged after critical Ofsted inspections
- Credit: Mike Page
A rural higher education college will be broken up and merged with other colleges, after 'a tough couple of years' in which it was twice rated inadequate by watchdogs.
Easton and Otley College is set for a major shake-up, with the Easton campus in Norfolk merging with City College Norwich and the Otley half becoming part of Suffolk New College.
College bosses say it will be 'business as usual' for its 5,000 students in the run-up to next year's merger, but that changes are crucial to secure the future of land-based education.
Further education commissioner Richard Atkins had recommended a merger, following critical Ofsted reports in 2017 and 2018.
The college, formed in 2012 after a merger between Easton College and Otley College, offers courses such as agriculture, horticulture and animal studies.
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Principal Jane Townsend said: "We now have a clear direction for securing the future of land-based provision in the region.
"My team is fully committed to ensuring that during this period of transition, we will continue to drive improvements in the quality of teaching and learning, and at Easton and Otley it will be 'business as usual' for students as we teach and inspire the future leaders of our sector."
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Corrienne Peasgood, chief executive and principal of City College Norwich, said: "Together we have an ambitious, robust and realistic plan in place for bringing about the required changes, whilst ensuring that Easton and Otley College's current and future students do not experience any disruption to their learning and are able to complete their courses and progress as planned."
The commissioner has proposed that the merger be completed by December 31, with a public consultation and an internal business review to take place before then.
If the merger goes ahead, then the University of East Anglia and the College of West Anglia will be close working partners, supporting the delivery of further and higher education courses.
Mark Pendlington, chairman of Easton and Otley College, acknowledged it had been a "tough couple of years" for the college, but said: "We now have an outcome that promises current and future students exciting new opportunities as they prepare for jobs and careers in the rapidly evolving world of work."