From education to employment

College implements merger to offset budget cuts

Yesterday was the deadline for prospective partners to put their bids in for a merger with a cash-strapped Devon college. The move is to offset June’s cost-cutting measures which saw five A-level courses axed and 30 staff made redundant.

Principal Maria Edwards of East Devon College said that students taking the French, human biology, philosophy and computing A-levels would be able to complete their courses, amidst criticism from the Unions.

Ms Edwards was appointed principal in November last year, prior to an Ofsted inspection in February. The college received a Leadership and Management grade 4 which led to a restructuring of the college management team. “Just after the inspection we commissioned a strategic operations review carried out by KPMG, which reported to the corporation in July,” explained Ms Edwards.

The College plans to hold two open days on Thursday and Friday this week, with a presentation to corporation governors on 11 October. “We”ll then have presentations from shortlisted organizations, and a full meeting on 18 October, with a formal offer to our prospective partner on the 19th,” said Ms Edwards.

Keith Turner, Chair of Governors, said: “This decision is about securing the future of learning for the young people, adults and businesses of Mid and East Devon. Seeking to merge with another college will lead to the creation of a stronger college with an increase in resources to improve the quality of teaching and learning and the choice of learning opportunities,” he added.

The merger will mean the two colleges share the same board of governors and possibly the same management. The college is based in Tiverton, with a vocational training centre in Honiton, and has more than 200 staff. It provides training and education for 800 full-time students, 300 apprentices, 2,000 part-time students and 130 businesses.

John Chudley, Area Director, Devon and Cornwall, Learning and Skills Council, said: “The LSC will continue to work closely with East Devon College as it develops its future strategy and improves its offer to learners through a new partnership”.

Annabel Hardy

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