‘It’s official’ – college mergers set to go ahead on January 1

Otley campus, which will be known as 'Suffolk Rural' Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Otley campus, which will be known as 'Suffolk Rural' Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Two complicated college mergers – and a land college de-merger – are set to go ahead on January 1 as the final legal hurdles are resolved.

Viv Gillespie, principal of Suffolk New College, who is set to take over the running of Otley campu

Viv Gillespie, principal of Suffolk New College, who is set to take over the running of Otley campus on January 1, after Easton and Otley College is broken up Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Troubled Easton and Otley College - which is being split up following a catastrophic second failed Ofsted - will, as of next year, be no more. Instead, its provision will fall under the auspices of two generalist further education colleges.

Land education provision in Suffolk will be provided through Suffolk New College, which takes the Otley campus under its wing as part of the new merger, while in Norfolk, the Easton campus will be adopted by City College Norwich.

MORE - Chair of governors slams box-ticking, 'culture of process' and 'backs being covered' as college broken upThe new-look Otley campus will be named 'Suffolk Rural', and will be led by Suffolk New College principal Viv Gillespie.

The latest full inspection of Suffolk New College - published on November 12, 2019 - said it 'requires improvement'. It was rated 'good' in most areas, but in three - personal development, leadership and management and provision for high needs learners - it was assessed as requiring improvement, dragging the overall rating down.

Otley campus, which will be known as 'Suffolk Rural' Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Otley campus, which will be known as 'Suffolk Rural' Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Easton and Otley College Board convened on Wednesday night (December 18) to approve the decision to dissolve the institution, and to transfer its rights, assets and liabilities to enable a two-way merger.


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It follows detailed talks over several months, and a public consultation which attracted 75% support for the proposal for the new mergers.

Easton and Otley chair of governors Mark Pendlington said he was confident the new arrangement secured the future of land-based learning for the region.

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"This is the beginning of a new era for land based education in Norfolk and Suffolk and we are extremely pleased to be giving the green light to the two-way merger with City College Norwich and Suffolk New College," he said, as he thanked those involved.

National Farmers' Union (NFU) regional director Rachel Carrington welcomed the mergers, but admitted it had been "a difficult process for those involved".

The NFU was looking forward to working with the colleges to ensure they deliver for farm businesses in East Anglia, which employ 40,000 people, as well as supporting thousands of jobs in allied industries, she said.

Chris Starkie, chief executive of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said the merger would bring together complementary areas to help to ensure the region's varied industries have the employees they need.

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