Lewisham Southwark College to become two separate colleges

Lewisham Southwark College is set to become two separate colleges again, just six years after it was formed through a merger.

The move was announced today by Joe Docherty, chief executive of NCG, which the college joined in 2017.

“This decision will allow the newly-established colleges to develop curriculum programmes that better meet the needs of the communities they serve, and to work more closely with key stakeholders, including crucially the local authorities of Lewisham and Southwark,” he said.

New principals will be appointed to lead Lewisham College and Southwark College, Mr Docherty said, “both charged with the opportunity to make sure the offer better meets the respective local challenges while continuing to collaborate on areas where that makes sense”.

Both colleges will remain part of NCG following the de-coupling, which is set to take place on October 1.

Staff, student and parents will be consulted on the changes, although no redundancies are planned.

Damien Egan, mayor of Lewisham and councillor Peter John, leader of Southwark Council, both welcomed the decision.

“This move will allow the newly-branded Lewisham College to tailor their curriculum to the needs of our borough,” Mr Egan said.

Mr John said that Southwark residents “deserve a better and more focused further education offer than we have had in recent years”.

Lewisham Southwark College was formed in 2012 through the merger of Lewisham College and Southwark College.

Since then it has had a troubled time, including a failed rebrand and two ‘inadequate’ Ofsted ratings in a row – the first FE and skills provider to do so.

In August 2017 it merged with NCG, despite concerns being raised by Lewisham council over the sense of the college joining a college group based 300 miles away.

Earlier this year staff at the college walked out on strike in a dispute with NCG bosses over pay.

 



Your thoughts

Leave a Reply to Matt Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

3 Comments

  1. “This decision will allow the newly-established colleges to develop curriculum programmes that better meet the needs of the communities they serve, and to work more closely with key stakeholders, including crucially the local authorities of Lewisham and Southwark,”

    Or to put it another way:

    “As a merged college we didn’t have the ability/capacity/will to offer a curriculum that met the needs of the communities we served, nor did we work closely with key stakeholders or local authorities”
    (p.s. “and although we both remain part of NCG, we don’t see that getting in the way one little bit”)

    More funding to FE please and this type of farce can be avoided.

  2. I agree wholeheartedly with Doug about the need for increased FE funding but Lewisham Southwark College also deserves recognition for the dramatic quality improvement seen recently – with results last year’s results some of the best of any college in London. The Boroughs’ quoted views make no acknowledgement of this – in spite of both having had ongoing close involvement in curriculum planning – with council appointed governors on the board throughout this time.
    I do hope that NCG is able to make sufficient investment, beyond additional top management, to enable the sort of growth and focussed provision everyone wants. We’ve already seen GLA plans to divert devolved cash to pay for a new cadre of administrators but it’s frontline staff and students where it’s desperately needed.
    Separate branding for the two colleges is perhaps a positive and natural move but not if a focus on learners and delivery is lost through repeated, and costly, internal restructuring – the cause of many of its historic difficulties. Moreover, a strong and unified voice will still be required for them both to compete with much larger, locally-concentrated mega-colleges for pan-London funding – hopefully this is where ‘collaboration’ will continue, lead by NCG. There is a very real danger that, viewed separately, a relative minnow such as Southwark may lose out – in the face of a newly-emboldened Lambeth College / LSBU, whilst Lewisham seeks to hold back the advance of LSEC.

  3. I worked at Lewisham incorporating Southwark College, LeSoCo and then Lewisham Southwark College for just over 4 years. There is a lot of criticism of management branding and restructuring but never any praise for the hardworking team of people dedicated to supporting the college, students and teaching staff.
    They carry on their task despite senior interim managers being paid exorbitant contracts to deliver precious little but failure and secret buy outs whilst ensuring their next move is secured.
    My hope is that the two buroughs get FEs that suit their student needs and in the process staff get their first pay increase in 6 years.