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Bilborough Sixth Form College and the Derby College Group (DCG) have started initial discussions about a potential merger earmarked for January 2019.
The independent governing bodies of both organisations agreed that a joint Project Steering Group would be formed to progress a merger proposal.
Senior leaders from Bilborough Sixth Form College and DCG met recently and agreed the timeline for a due diligence process to now be progressed.
A merger proposal will be prepared which will be subject to consultation with all stakeholders from mid-March 2018.
Merger discussions follow the report and recommendations of the Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Area Review published in August 2017.
This process is intended to ensure that the further education sector has a strong and sustainable future in terms of efficiency of operation, quality of provision and the responsiveness of courses to the needs of individuals and employers.
In line with the recommendations, Bilborough Sixth Form College has since been investigating potential partnerships to better secure its long-term financial position.
The preferred partner was DCG which includes four college campuses – each with their own identity and specialisms – and has extensive experience of successful mergers since its formation in 2002.
DCG also works with around 3,000 employers through apprenticeship, corporate training and an innovative programme to bridge the gap between education and employment which was acknowledged as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted.
Bilborough Sixth Form College Principal Chris Bradford explained: “Having investigated several different options, including academisation, we approached DCG and were impressed that the organisation understood what we as a sixth form college do and what makes us distinctive.
“Our shared vision is that by joining DCG, we will have greater financial sustainability whilst still retaining our identity.
“Our discussions have very much focused on the opportunities to achieve long-term sustainability and growth for Bilborough and DCG. We can see that sharing good practice and capitalising on our respective strengths will lead to benefits for everyone concerned.
“The start of merger discussions is therefore a positive step forward and we look forward to working with our counterparts at DCG in the coming months to progress this shared vision.”
DCG CEO Mandie Stravino continued: “Following the Area Review, we had not been actively seeking a merger but were interested to start discussions with Bilborough Sixth Form College following their approach.
“We both share many synergies – not least a ‘Good’ grading by Ofsted and a reputation for quality further education provision for our learners and communities.
“This is the start of a year-long process which will include a detailed due diligence process and extensive consultation amongst a wide range of stakeholders.
“The early discussions are encouraging that this merger would provide mutual benefit for both organisations and particularly for our current and future students, staff, local communities and regional employers.”
DCG is the brand name for Derby College Group.
Derby College was formed in 2002 as a result of a three-way merger between Mackworth and Wilmorton tertiary colleges and land-based college Broomfield Hall. In 2010 a merger was undertaken which saw the former South East Derbyshire College join Derby College.
The Group has a turnover of around £50 million and provides employment for nearly 1,400 people.
DCG is one of England’s largest colleges with more than 25,000 learners. These include 14 to 16-year-old learners who attend vocational courses as part of their GCSE study programmes, full time learners aged 16 to 19 on a wide range of A level and vocational programmes, higher education learners, mature and part time learners, apprentices and work-based learners.
It has four main college campuses - Joseph Wright Post1- Academic and Arts Centre, The Roundhouse which is the flagship technical campus, Broomfield Hall land based campus and the Ilkeston campus with study programmes specifically focused on the skills required by local employers.
DCG was graded 'Good' with 'Outstanding' features for its work with employers and learners with high needs at its latest Ofsted inspection.
Ofsted stated that the Group is ‘a valued resource for the City of Derby and County of Derbyshire, providing an inclusive and welcoming environment and high quality facilities for teaching and learning’.
Study programmes for young people have a strong emphasis on work experience – both with local employers and at the College’s own commercial operations from a garage to a restaurant.
The Group works in partnership with around 3,000 employers. This work includes programmes to bridge the gap between education and the workplace and manage all students onto positive destinations.
This work centres around the innovative Employment and Skills Academies and Employer Academies. Businesses are providing learners with masterclasses, work experience, special projects and mentoring with some students gaining interviews at the end of the programme for apprenticeship and job vacancies.
The Group’s ‘Little Explorers’ Nursery was graded as ‘Outstanding’ in November 2016; the residential provision was graded as ‘Outstanding’ in October 2014 and the Initial Teacher Education was judged to be ‘Outstanding’ as part of the University of Derby’s Ofsted inspection. The AAA’s Higher Education Review in May 2015 awarded the Group double commendations.
DCG was the first college in England to be awarded British Deaf Association Charter in March 2016. It was re-awarded the Career Mark in November 2015 – recognising good practice in the management and deliver of the careers support and the delivery of information, advice and guidance was revalidated in March 2017 with the Matrix Standard accreditation.
In July 2015 the Group achieved revalidation of the Buttle UK Quality Mark which recognises the quality of information and support services for students in care and care leavers.
For more information, visit www.derby-college.ac.uk
About Bilborough Sixth Form College
Bilborough College is a specialist, publicly funded sixth form college located on the west side of Nottingham in a purpose-built campus dating from 2005. It has approximately 1600 16-18 year-old students on individual programmes of study centred around either A Levels, BTEC Level 3 Diplomas or a combination of the two. Approximately 80% of its students go on to university - a large proportion to research-intensive universities such as the Russell Group - and the remainder into higher level Apprenticeships, employment or further training.
Data received from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) in 2017 indicated that students progressing from Bilborough to university obtain significantly higher proportions of first and upper second class degrees than the averages for schools and colleges nationally.
A vital part of the college’s mission is to provide a relevant, broad and rich curriculum so that students can reach their full academic and wider potential while developing the independence, resilience and awareness necessary for success as responsible global citizens.
The College was judged to be good in all respects by OFSTED during its last inspection in September 2016. OFSTED stated that ‘students are proud of their achievements and are articulate and self-confident. They are respectful of each other and, as a result, the college offers a welcoming and inclusive environment in which students feel happy and safe.’
As well as recruiting from Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and slightly further afield in the UK the college has 60 international students most of whom hail from mainland China, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Brazil.
For more information visit: http://bilborough.ac.uk/