Principal of East Norfolk Sixth College Catherine Richards looks to future after being told college does not have to merge with other schools

East Norfolk Sixth Form College, Gorleston. Photo: Archant Library

East Norfolk Sixth Form College, Gorleston. Photo: Archant Library - Credit: East Norfolk Sixth Form College

A college leader is hopeful about the future of her educational establishment which has been told it will not have to merge with others.

Two years ago East Norfolk Sixth Form College in Gorleston was one of five in east Norfolk and north Suffolk subject to a government review into post-16 education provision.

A panel of government and educational leaders met to address how to best provide education against a backdrop of falling student cohorts and squeezed budgets.

MORE: Proposal for merger between Norwich and North Walsham colleges to offer greater choice of coursesAs a result Great Yarmouth College and Lowestoft College have already merged to become East Coast College, and earlier this month Paston Sixth-Form College in North Walsham and City College Norwich announced they were in talks about merging.

After a period of uncertainty about possibly having to merge with another organisation, the principal of East Norfolk Sixth Form College, Catherine Richards, said she was hopeful about the future which will see it explore options becoming an academy.

While she said it would be 'business as usual' she added: 'The benefit is we can keep focussing on our students and staff on our journey to outstanding.

'At this stage the key message to the local community is we are an incredibly strong college. Our students are at the centre of what we do and that's what we want to continue to do.

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'We are able to use our money in a way we choose to benefit the local community.'

Dr Richards said being left as one of the only independent colleges in the region was a testament to the hard work of her staff.

MORE: Chairman of review into post-16 further education in Norfolk and Suffolk announcedShe said funding would not change but would continue to be a challenge because they were now comparatively a small institution.

She added: 'But what's good about East Norfolk is we can flex our curriculum to meet local needs and partner with other organisations.'

She now hopes to continue to work closely with both primary and secondary schools to encourage youngsters to think about further education and also its relationships with Norwich City FC and local businesses.

Dr Richards added it would be good for the area to have two strong institutions in the area providing post-16 education. Governors will decide what kind of academy it may become.

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