Response from North Norfolk Labour Party (NNLP) to the proposal for the Paston Sixth Form College(PSFC)/City College Norwich(CCN) ‘Merger’.
The NNLP has talked to the Principal of City College, the Principal of PSFC, Support Staff, Teaching Staff, Managers and Ex-Students and appreciates that the ‘Type B Merger’ sets out to make closer links with North Walsham Town by offering a broader range of courses and increasing student numbers. However, this does depend on the success of enrolment and whilst there is so much alternative provision in Norfolk and Norwich, ongoing drastic funding cuts to education and a falling demographic of 16-18 year olds, this does seem quite precarious.
It is therefore the Labour Party’s position that whilst we do not oppose the ‘merger’ we call for:
- A guarantee of jobs and salaries or alternative employment for all those made redundant, particularly those with disabilities.
- Pay and conditions to be maintained beyond TUPE.
- A guarantee from CCN that the Lawns site in Park Lane will not be sold.
- A guarantee for Paston College in CCN’s long-term plans.
- An estimated cost of the ‘merger’ to be published.
There is a huge concern about jobs amongst all personnel at PSFC.
We have been told that redundancies are inevitable and these will obviously affect the Town’s economy.
An important question is what percentage of the current cohort will be learning on two sites 16 miles apart? Are students going to want to sign up to a course when they know they may have to travel for an hour to get to it? Is this going to affect recruitment?
Will new courses, as beneficial as they are, recruit enough students in North Walsham?
There is a fear that if enrolment is not favourable this could lead to a phasing out of the college and inevitably result in the sale of PSFC’s assets. There is also a possible impact on the use of the Bittern Line.
For those who value PSFC as an educational community, this can be seen as a ‘take over’ rather than a ‘merger’ as PSFC’s rights and liabilities will transfer directly to City College Norwich. These ‘mergers’ are sold as being an advantage to the students and the community but we know they are about saving money, cutting costs and applying economies of scale. In the process Paston’s uniqueness gets lost.
The intimacy of a small college, the enrichment programme, the quality of teaching and learning and its excellent specialist pastoral care team have all made Paston so popular with students, staff and parents alike. The college has also provided an important focal point and identity for North Walsham as well as making a strong contribution to its economy.
Replies to the consultation need to be received by midnight on Saturday 22 July. Email responses to: email@example.com.