Bosses rule out South Staffordshire College and Walsall College merger

A formal merger between South Staffordshire and Walsall colleges has been ruled out by their principals and governors.

A merger between South Staffordshire College, left, and Walsall College, right, had been proposed by the Government
A merger between South Staffordshire College, left, and Walsall College, right, had been proposed by the Government

They said due diligence work had revealed ‘a number of complex and costly implications which would arise from bringing the two colleges together’.

There were also concerns that ‘a newly merged college would take a considerable amount of time before any potential benefits could be realised’.

A merger had been proposed by the Department for Education (DfE) saying that South Staffordshire College, which had to make £2 million of cuts in 2015, would benefit from the ‘financial strength’ of its Walsall counter-part.

A report as part of the Black Country and Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire further education area reviews stated the merger would create a college with a combined £59m turnover.

Discussions between South Staffordshire College, which incorporates the Cannock, Lichfield, Tamworth and Rodbaston campuses, and Walsall College, began last year.

jatinda
Jatinder Sharma, the principal of Walsall College

Bosses have since been working together to determine whether a merger would benefit students, businesses and the communities they serve.

But they have now concluded that ‘a formal merger is not the best solution at the current time’.

They have, however, pledged to continue working together despite a formal arrangement not being in place.

A statement was issued on behalf of South Staffordshire principal Graham Morley and chairman of governors Ray Faulkner as well as Walsall principal Jatinder Sharma and chairman of governors Allan Pinnegar.

It reads: “Walsall College and South Staffordshire College are committed to delivering an efficient and effective service for our students, stakeholders and the communities we serve.

“Following extensive discussions and comprehensive due diligence, both colleges have concluded that a formal merger is not the best solution at the current time.

“Both organisations will continue to collaborate and work together outside of the complexity of a formal merger.”

South Staffordshire College was last rated as 'requires improvement' by Ofsted and the Government had hoped the move would improve it, with Walsall College last declared as 'outstanding' by the watchdog.

The DfE has stated the merger will help address concerns over the need for extra provision for students with learning difficulties, raised by Staffordshire County Council.

Subscribe to our Newsletter