Three mergers involving five FE colleges and one sixth form college (SFC) have been proposed as part of the Tees Valley area review, which has become the second area review to reach its conclusion.

The outcomes of the review, which was part of wave one of the area reviews, were published today in a statement by Tees Valley Combined Authority.

Six colleges and four SFCs were involved in the review, which had its first steering group on October 1.

The proposed mergers are between Middlesbrough College and Redcar and Cleveland College; Darlington College and Stockton Riverside College; and Hartlepool College and Hartlepool Sixth Form College.

Cleveland College of Art and Design will remain as an independent institution to build on its art and design specialism, the statement said.

As reported by FE Week, Prior Pursglove SFC and Stockton SFC have already merged to form Prior Pursglove and Stockton SFC. The newly-merged institution will now pursue academisation, and will either establish its own multi-academy trust (MAT) or join one with local schools, the statement said.

The remaining SFC, Queen Elizabeth SFC, will remain independent while also pursuing academisation as part of a MAT.

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.”

She continued: “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.”

Tees Valley is just the second of the seven areas involved in wave one of the area reviews to have reached the end of the process – despite all seven areas having begun in September or October.

As reported by FE Week, the Birmingham and Solihull area review ended in early March with just one proposed merger.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills initially advised in September that post-16 education and skills area reviews should take three to four months to complete — then extended this to four to six months in a second guidance document published in March.