Proposal for merger between Norwich and North Walsham colleges to offer greater choice of courses

City College Norwich. Picture: TEN Group

City College Norwich. Picture: TEN Group - Credit: Archant

Two Norfolk colleges could merge in a bid to offer young people in the rural north of Norfolk access to a wider choice of further education courses.

City College Norwich. Picture: Keith Whitmore

City College Norwich. Picture: Keith Whitmore - Credit: Keith Whitmore

Paston Sixth Form College, in North Walsham, and City College Norwich are to consult on closer working to offer young people in the north of the county a greater variety of courses - and an easier route to access them.

The colleges say collaboration would also lead to an improved student experience as a result of shared facilities, field trips and work experience opportunities, better links with employers in north Norfolk and increased higher education participation in areas in which it is currently low.

A public consultation on the plans will begin in June, with the decision to be made with the governing bodies of each college. If given the go-ahead, the merger between the colleges - both of which have 'good' Ofsted ratings - could be in place by December.

A statement from both colleges said: 'This is the start of what could become an exciting opportunity to expand choice and widen the educational offer for existing students, prospective students, employers and the wider community in north Norfolk.

Paston Sixth Form College, North Walsham.

Paston Sixth Form College, North Walsham. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

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'We are exploring opportunities for a potential merger, in order to increase and enhance the choice and breadth of A-level, further education, apprenticeships and degree level courses.'

The proposal arose after a review of the area's post-16 education and training facilities, led by the government's further education commissioner Richard Atkins.

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The colleges said: 'Our objective is to better serve the needs and aspirations of young people and ensure a skilled, local workforce for both emerging and established industries and in the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership priority sectors.

'Our approach has been to look at where we can complement existing strengths, and enhance provision, particularly where there are identified gaps.'

City College Norwich, which celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2016, has 6,880 students, while Paston Sixth Form College has about 600.

In 2015/16, one in four - 24pc - of 16 to 18-year-olds across the whole of Norfolk were students at City College Norwich.

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