A public consultation has been launched to gather views on a proposed further education ‘super college’ for Cheshire.

The Cheshire College will be the product of a merger between West Cheshire College, South Cheshire College, Mid Cheshire College and Warrington Collegiate.

But the consultation focuses on phase one of the planned merger between West Cheshire College - which has campuses in Chester and Ellesmere Port - and South Cheshire College by January 2017.

The new FE college has the full support of all four colleges, as well as local authorities and the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Chairman of governors at West Cheshire College Christine Russell
Christine Russell, chair of governors at West Cheshire College

Christine Russell, chair of governors at West Cheshire College (WCC), said: “We have a very clear vision of what we want to achieve with the merger; but we also want to understand the views and opinions of students, employers, parents/guardians, employers and the wider community to ensure we meet their needs and expectations.”

Ms Russell hopes the merger will be the saviour of WCC’s Handbridge campus which had been due to close.

Dame Pat Bacon, chair of the corporation at Crewe-based South Cheshire College, adds: “The merger will create a stronger organisation delivering high quality outcomes for learners and employers and provide a strong delivery partner for LEP priorities for the region.”

The second phase of the merger will involve Mid Cheshire College by August 2017 and Warrington Collegiate by January 2018.

Supporters say the county-wide FE college will build on the key strengths of each college, creating a stronger organisation delivering high quality education and skills training for learners and employers. The merger will also create a financially robust organisation that will stream-line back-room costs.

However, there is work to do in raising educational standards across the new organisation.

West Cheshire College's Ellesmere Port campus

West Cheshire College was judged ‘inadequate’ following an inspection last autumn but is making progress. Mid Cheshire College faces similar challenges while Warrington Collegiate was recently labelled as ‘requires improvement’. South Cheshire College was judged as good in 2012 (2012) and a recent inspection found the college had ‘worked tirelessly to improve’ and ‘good quality of education’ had been maintained.

The consultation period runs from September 1 until October 1, 2016.

A copy of the consultation document on the proposed merger and change of name to The Cheshire College is available free of charge and can be found by clicking here.

Alternatively, a copy of the consultation document can be requested by emailing consultation@west-cheshire.ac.uk or consultation@scc.co.uk or in writing to: The clerk of the corporation, West Cheshire College, off Sutton Way, Ellesmere Port CH65 7BF or the clerk of the corporation, South Cheshire College, Dane Bank Avenue, Crewe Cheshire CW2 8AB.

A summary of the consultation and its outcome will be published within two months after the end of the consultation period.