Northumberland College and Sunderland College merger made official

A major merger deal between Northumberland College and Sunderland College has been made official today.

Friday, 22nd March 2019, 9:10 am
Updated Friday, 22nd March 2019, 9:14 am
Rob Lawson and Ellen Thinnesen at Northumberland Colleges Kirkley Hall Campus.

They will 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 £54million and a student body of more than 21,000.

Chairman of governors Rob Lawson 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.”

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.

Lynn Tomkins, who was chairman 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 it shares 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.”

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.

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 the 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.”