September 3, 2018 @ 11:11 by Alison Cowie
A year on from the merger between Sunderland College and Hartlepool Sixth Form College – which received backing from the Sixth Form Commissioner and FE Commissioner – has seen significant benefits and the creation of new opportunities, alongside improved outcomes for students, staff and other stakeholders, says principal and chief executive, Ellen Thinnesen.
The college has reported an overall increase in AS Level and A-Level pass rates and the overall pass rate for both colleges combined is an impressive 97.5 per cent. The merger has also secured the financial future of the only bespoke sixth form college in Hartlepool and has enabled substantial new investments in the learning environment, with a brand new, state-of-the-art digital academy and curriculum launching this September.
The merger resulted in a single governing board and consolidated leadership, along with new regional job roles working across both college sites for back office staff and support services. Staff at both colleges have been sharing best practice and some have progressed into newly created leadership positions.
Ellen Thinnesen, principal and chief executive, has overall responsibility for both Sunderland College and Hartlepool Sixth Form College. She commented:
“We passionately believe in delivering educational opportunities and a high-quality learning experience, with students at the heart of everything we do. It has been a pleasure working in partnership with colleagues and stakeholders within Hartlepool and across the wider Tees Valley. We look forward to this collaborative approach continuing.
“We are delighted to report that one year on, the merger has created more opportunities for our stakeholders including students, staff and employers; ensured the future stability of Hartlepool Sixth Form College; improved performance; and enabled both colleges to meet the needs of its local people and local business community.
“Together we have become more resilient, and with our shared vision for excellence, we are creating a future that is ambitious and successful and offers long-term growth.”
Mark Hughes, who was appointed Head of Hartlepool Sixth Form College last August, added: “During the last 12 months, since the merger, we have experienced significant improvements. We are currently enrolling our new intake of students and have seen a 3 per cent increase in applications compared to last year. We are enjoying working with our colleagues at Sunderland and look forward to the future.”