South-East Colleges Launch Large Scale Merge

Two colleges in the south-east of England have announced plans to merge together. This is exciting news because both colleges are very large – teaching a combined total of almost 30,000 further education students. This is the first plan of its kind and is set to take place in August 2018.

Planning to Move Forward

Bracknell and Wokingham College are set to join the Activate Learning Group (ALG). At present, the group covers Reading College, City of Oxford College and Banbury and Bicester College. It also underwent a significant re-brand in 2013, totalling a cost of £93,000. As well as this, the group also encompasses three university technical colleges in Didcot, Reading, Swindon and a studio school in Bicester. ALG even has Activate Apprenticeships and ATG Training as well as a Higher Education business school and colleges in Saudi Arabia.

Ofsted has rated Bracknell and Wokingham College and ALG as ‘good’. They already have significant government skills contracts, with the former totalling nearly £3 million and the latter totalling over £9 million.

Potential Benefits of the Merge

The merger is due to begin on the 1st of August 2018. The target date is the beginning of the new academic and funding year for colleges. Chair of Governors at ALG Chris Jones is extremely positive about the merge plans, stating that it is ‘great news for learners, staff, businesses and local communities in Berkshire and Oxfordshire’. From the merger, Chris Jones hopes that students will have greater options for career pathways and to form a good relationship with local businesses who will have access to local talent. There’s also the aim to strengthen the united colleges that will ultimately be better assets to their respective communities.

The colleges will publish a joint public consultation document later in January. The purpose will be to give an overview of the benefits that the merger plan will bring, so that the public are informed and can have an input.