Proposals to merge two Hartlepool colleges have been unveiled today.
Following a review of further education provision in the region, proposals have been made to merge Hartlepool Sixth Form College and Hartlepool College of Further Education.
The ground-breaking review of Further Education and Sixth Form Colleges in the Tees Valley area, which was part of a nationwide government programme, has made a series of recommendations which is claimed will transform the opportunities available to young people and adults whether they are seeking to get their first job or improve their career prospects.
Gill Alexander, Hartlepool Council chief executive, said: “These proposals will create a system which delivers world-class further education in the Tees Valley and which fully meets the needs of local young people, adults and employers.
“By collaborative, partnership working we can benefit from further education opportunities that will give young people and adults the skills and qualifications to get into work and have successful careers in Tees Valley or beyond."
A joint statement issued by Professor Aidan Mullan, chairman of governors at Hartlepool College of Further Education, and Jonathan Brash, chairman of governors at Hartlepool Sixth Form College, said: "We welcome the outcome of the area review into Further Education and Sixth Form colleges in the Tees Valley and work is now underway to see if the recommendations can be realised.
"We have been involved in all of the discussions from the outset, and are keeping our staff informed. Our two colleges are now working together closely to develop this idea and we hope it will lead to some truly exciting and innovative proposals.
“Our focus is to find a solution that offers the very best education and outcomes for students in and around Hartlepool to ensure that they can realise their fullest potential.”
The review considered the best way of shaping further education provision in Tees Valley by building on the strengths of the individual colleges to ensure they are sustainable and closely aligned to the skills needs of employers in the area..
The Tees Valley Area Review, which was one of the first in the country, covered the five local authority areas of Hartlepool, Darlington, Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland and Stockton.
Six colleges, including the two in Hartlepool, were involved in the review which covered areas served by Tees Valley Unlimited, TVU, and the Tees Valley Combined Authority, TVCA.
Representatives from each of the colleges, the local authorities, TVU and TVCA formed a steering group, which was co-chaired by Ms Alexander.
A number of draft recommendations have now been agreed by the Steering Group which will go forward to be the subject of further work, detailed appraisal and public consultation in accordance with the legal requirements for college mergers.
As well as merging the two town colleges, the proposals also involve the mergers of Middlesbrough with Redcar & Cleveland College and Darlington with Stockton Riverside College.
The Steering Group has agreed that Cleveland College of Art and Design will remain as an independent institution, seeking to build further on their art and design specialism.
All of the colleges have agreed to further develop partnership working with each other as well as employers and key agencies in Tees Valley including the Combined Authority.