Three-way merger becomes two-way after college pulls out

A college has pulled out of a planned three-way London merger, as the remaining two colleges announce that they still plan to pair up.

The College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London had been in discussion with Barnet and Southgate College and Waltham Forest College about a possible three-way link up, but announced today that this had now been “shelved by agreement”.

Meanwhile, the remaining two colleges announced that they would soon be consulting on proposals for a two-way merger, with a planned merge date of August 1 2017.

In a statement released today, CONEL said that the sticking point in the merger proposals had been differing approaches to governance and management.

It would have preferred an “innovative group structure” with “strong local governance and management”, while the other two colleges “expressed a preference for a traditional model of merger and feel that developing an alternative at this stage would cause unnecessary delay to their merger timetable.”

In a separate statement announcing their two-way merger plans, Barnet and Southgate College and Waltham Forest College said that they “look forward to opening discussions” with CONEL “on further collaboration and other options to support skills development across London”.

Andy Forbes, CONEL principal, said the college was confident about its future.

“We are a successful college with strong roots in our local communities and this will continue,” he said.

CONEL’s chair of governors, Keith Brown, added: “We will always be open to exploring closer collaboration with partner colleges where we feel that would further improve what we can offer to learners.

“We will therefore continue to work closely with Barnet and Southgate and Waltham Forest, and other neighbouring colleges to develop London’s education and skills provision.”

Ann Zinkin, Barnet and Southgate College chair, said: “We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with Waltham Forest College.

“We share the same objectives of building a vibrant, high quality and financially resilient college that serves young people well and meets the wider aspirations of the local communities and businesses in the area.”

Paul Butler, the chair of Waltham Forest College, said: “A single, joined up college will give us the ability to extend our training offer and deliver a wider range of high quality courses that meet the needs of young people and local, regional and national businesses.

“We also look forward to strengthening our ties with other neighbouring colleges as we go forwards.”

All three colleges are currently involved in the London-wide area reviews of post-16 education and training, although as part of separate reviews.

CONEL is in the central London review, while Barnet and Southgate is in the west London review and Waltham Forest College is in the east London review.

FE Week understands that all the London area reviews are expected to complete in November.

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