NINESTILES Academy Trust and The Sixth Form College Solihull plan to merge in a new pioneering partnership.
The Trust and College first began talks to merge in early 2015 and in October last year the Government also recommended they join together following a review of Further Education in Birmingham and Solihull.
The review, led by departing Further Education Commissioner Dr David Collins, assessed the economic and educational needs of the region and resulted in 11 recommendations regarding the future of a number of colleges and sixth form centres.
At separate meetings held simultaneously on December 13, the Boards of both the The Sixth Form College Solihull and Ninestiles Academy Trust voted to continue with their planned merger and to move forward to the next stage.
They will now jointly submit a formal application to the Department for Education, requesting the College both converts to Academy status and also joins the Trust. This is subject to due process and consultation.
The merger, if approved by the Department for Education, is expected to take place on August 1, 2017.
Ninestiles Academy Trust currently comprises of seven schools across Birmingham and Solihull – Ninestiles Academy in Acocks Green, Erdington Hall Primary School, Lyndon Secondary School, Pegasus Primary School, The Oaklands Primary School, Yarnfield Primary School and Cockshut Hill School.
The planned merger would see the Trust becoming an establishment which would cater for students aged from three to 19.
Martyn Collin, Interim CEO at Ninestiles Academy Trust, said: “This is an exciting development for our Trust, which has always been focussed on ensuring every pupil in our care can achieve their full potential.
“By joining forces with The Sixth Form College Solihull, we would be able to offer children the unique opportunity of accessing a learning pathway which will lead them on a journey remaining within one network of educational establishments from the first day of their academic experience aged three right up until they are 19 years old.
The proposed merger would see the Trust expanding to cater for more than 7,500 pupils and students and 800 staff, and would create an opportunity to expand its capacity further still to support other primary and secondary schools and colleges.
Paul Ashdown, Principal at The Sixth Form College, Solihull, added: “I believe strongly that this merger would bring together the existing and complementary strengths of The Sixth Form College Solihull and Ninestiles Academy Trust to create an all-through expertise which would drive and sustain a system of excellence.
“It will enable us to create an organisation with strong community, education and business links which will allow our students to prosper, flourish and achieve their aspirations.
“As part of a strong Trust we would also be able to secure and enhance the outstanding educational opportunities we provide to young people from schools all across Birmingham and Solihull.”