North East colleges announce official merger

Two of the North East’s leading colleges have officially merged today in an ambitious move that will create significant benefits for the region.

Sunderland College and Northumberland College have legally merged to create a new group of colleges under the brand Education Partnership North East.

Sunderland College successfully merged with Hartlepool Sixth Form College in September 2017. This latest partnership with Northumberland College will produce one of the largest academic, professional and technical education colleges in the country, with an annual financial turnover of £54 million and a student body of over 21,000.

Rob Lawson, Chair of Governors, said:

“We’re delighted to announce the creation of our new regional partnership. The colleges, who are already working together to share their expertise and strengths, will provide high-quality education programmes combined with outstanding learning experiences.

“Over the next few days we will announce the appointment of a new principal for Northumberland College, and new governance arrangements for our regional and local boards.

“I’d like to personally thank the teams from Northumberland and Sunderland who have worked so hard to complete the merger. I’m grateful for their commitment and dedication to creating Education Partnership North East.”

The merged college will shape an innovative post-16 curriculum that spans an extensive range of industry sectors and excels in meeting the existing and future needs of local, regional and national skills demands.

Lynn Tomkins, who was Chair of Northumberland College through the merger, said:

“We are pleased to be merging with Sunderland College as it allows us to create further opportunities for our students, staff and key stakeholders.

“From the outset, we were keen to choose Sunderland College as our partner as they share the same strong values as Northumberland College.

“As a group, we have impressive plans to take our colleges forward and we are certain there is a bright future ahead, as we continue to collaborate and work together.

“I would like to acknowledge the hard work of our current Principal, Ian Clinton, and the vision that he has shown to implement a new strategic focus, which has reaped huge rewards for our learners. I would also like to thank our dedicated Governing Body who are committed to our college and the communities we serve. This will continue under the new partnership with even greater success to come.”

Chief Executive, Ellen Thinnesen, said:

“I’m delighted to announce the creation of Education Partnership North East and welcome the real benefits the merger brings to the educational, social and economic needs of the region, and local communities of each college. We are ambitious for our College’s future and will continue to build upon our success to ensure the student experience, and external partnerships locally, regionally and nationally are the best they can be.

“By joining forces, our colleges are strengthened through collective scale, financial turnover and geographic location. For Northumberland College, the merger will specifically bring much needed investment to strengthen and transform resources for staff, students and local communities.

“I would like to sincerely thank all of the Governors, the senior leadership team and the wider staff teams at Northumberland College and Sunderland College for working diligently to bring about this successful merger”

The key principles of the merger are to improve collective sustainability, protect public funds and maximise opportunities available to students, apprentices, employers and the local community.

Each college within Education Partnership North East (Sunderland College, Northumberland College and Hartlepool Sixth Form College) will have a separate identity, and whilst creating a strategic regional approach to education and skills, they will be working together to better meet the individual needs of the communities they serve.

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