Furness College Celebrates Successful Year
The man at the helm of the biggest college in Cumbria has spoken about the success of its first year as a merged college.
Principal and Chief Executive Andrew Wren said Furness College has gone from strength to strength since the merger with Barrow Sixth Form College.
The two colleges merged on August 1 last year to become the county’s largest provider of education and skills training. It now runs across two campuses with a further education college at Channelside and a specialist sixth form campus at Rating Lane, both in Barrow.
Mr Wren said he was very pleased with the first year and praised staff for their exceptional dedication and planning to ensure everything went smoothly.
“The future looks bright: the quality of provision is going from strength to strength, and the college’s finances are extremely strong,” he said. “There has never been a wider choice for young people, adults and employers in the Furness area.
“From next year, there are new opportunities for students to study courses across both campuses and the curriculum is continuing to grow with the addition of new A level and vocational programmes.”
Mr Wren said there had been a lot of preparation to ensure the transfer went well and had no negative impact on students or staff.
“Students at both sites will have noticed little change except access to more facilities across both campuses and increased investment in resources at Rating Lane,” he said. “Staff have integrated very well with many now working across both campuses.”
He said there had been a full review of management and support staff. “We wanted to ensure the best people were in the right place,” he said. “Whilst a small number of staff have left us, this has been on a voluntary basis and the majority have remained committed to the shared vision for the college and understand the real benefits of the two colleges merging.”
The college now offers qualifications ranging from A levels and apprenticeships to professional/technical courses and university degrees.
In the past year, Furness College has topped the national league table for the progress students make after school and has been recognised as a leading national performer in education by achieving chartered status. It secured a silver award for the quality of higher education teaching in the government’s Teaching Excellence Framework for ‘consistently exceeding’ rigorous national quality requirements.
Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock said: “It is clear that in the first year as a merged organisation Furness College has been committed to maintaining the high standard of education and training for the people of Furness and surrounding areas. What we have seen is a smooth transition to create a single, larger and more financially resilient college that safeguards the high quality of post-16 education and training available here in Barrow.
“The wide ranging curriculum has not only been protected but enhancements have been made, such as the reintroduction of A level Design and Technology, that reflect the skills needs of employers and support young people to achieve their dream jobs. Students have increasing flexibility to choose programmes that combine professional, technical and academic elements and in today’s world that can only be an advantage. It is a college of which our community can be proud.”