Inadequate-rated college follows through on FE Commissioner’s merger advice — leaving nearly 100 jobs in the balance

Norton Radstock College’s proposed merger with City of Bath College will be made official next month in a move that could mean nearly 100 job losses.

They will become Bath College on April 6 following the advice of FE Commissioner Dr David Collins, who visited Norton Radstock College last summer after Ofsted gave it a grade four rating.

He told bosses at the 4,700-learner college that it needed to operate “within a larger partnership” and its subsequent search for a merger partner, as reported in FE Week, resulted in talks with 5,129-learner City of Bath College, which was graded as good by Ofsted in 2013.

The colleges, which are ten miles apart and currently employ a total of 677 staff, are now consulting over staffing after the merger goes ahead, with a possible 91 jobs at risk.

City of Bath College principal Matt Atkinson (pictured above), who will become principal of Bath College, said: “We are thrilled to begin a new era of education under the Bath College name.

“The merger will allow the college, its staff and students to face the future from a position of strength.”

However, he said although no job losses had been finalised “difficult choices” would need to be made.

City of Bath College’s board has proposed a merger strategy that could leave 91 employees in academic and non-teaching support roles facing redundancy — however, according to the college, the merger will create 52 new posts, so fewer than 91 job losses are actually expected.

He said: “It’s important to be honest when merging two colleges and a restructure of staff is essential for the new college’s future growth.

“We have formally entered a period of consultation and we will do all with can to minimise job losses.

“Some redundancies will be unavoidable but we have a good track record of working with the trade unions and we are confident the impact of the merger on jobs will be minimal.

“Therefore although 91 individuals may be put at risk of redundancy we do not envisage 91 individuals losing their jobs.”

The 60-day consultation of staff and stakeholders is due to close by the April 6 merger date.

The restructuring will include closing one of Norton Radstock College’s current sites on St Francis Road, Keynsham, near Bristol, but the new college will continue to operate out of City of Bath’s current City Centre Campus in Avon Street, Bath, and  Norton Radstock’s Somer Valley Campus in South Hill Park, Westfield.

The new college will provide vocational and academic training for more than 3,000 full-time students and around 10,000 part-time students.

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