Education and community leaders have welcomed a move by Furness College to form a new South Cumbria Multi Academy Trust.
Furness College has approval to invite primary and secondary schools to join a new Multi Academy Trust (MAT) and Chetwynde School is the first to sign up.
The Trust will see the Barrow-based college share its expertise and strengths with partners to further improve education for young people.
MP for Barrow and Furness Simon Fell said it was a very positive move. “This will strengthen the offering available to current and future students in Barrow and beyond. Sharing skills, resources and knowledge will put these institutions in a stronger position and significantly improve the offering in town as a result,” he said. “Seeing such a diversity of institutions coming together is really exciting and I look forward to following the Trust as it develops and matures.”
His praise was echoed by Councillor Anne Burns, of Barrow Borough Council and Cumbria County Council, who said it would start to help plan some of the future needs in education across Furness.
“This is a positive initiative that puts education and lifelong learning right at the centre of our community needs. Barrow and Furness is unique, our community has always worked together to identify what skills and expertise are needed to give our children and young people the best chance for their future. I think this is the start of an exciting opportunity.”
The Regional Schools Commissioner has approved the Trust and a board will soon be appointed that combines a wealth of expertise across both education and business.
Furness College Principal and Chief Executive Professor Andrew Wren said the college had received extremely positive feedback about the launch of the South Cumbria MAT.
“We’ve been contacted by school and university leaders from across Cumbria and Lancashire who are delighted at the news and what it will mean for the young people,” he said. “Everyone has worked hard on this plan and it is heartening to hear that it is seen as part of the ‘exciting green shoots’ popping up across our education landscape.
“We firmly believe that this will benefit this and future generations by providing a seamless partnership to help enrich young people’s educational experience through links to staff and resources at our world-class campus and specialist sixth form.”
He said there had been interest from other schools who were exploring the idea of joining the Trust, which will officially launch in September with Chetwynde as the founding partner.
Chetwynde Headteacher Steve Jefferson said staff, parents and pupils at the school had also welcomed the news, which helps secure the future of the school on Rating Lane.
Furness College is on two main sites with a world-class campus at Channelside and specialist sixth form at Rating Lane. Its successful merger with Barrow Sixth Form College in 2016 was praised by Ofsted.
It was graded good by Ofsted at the last inspection and has maintained its Education and Skills Funding Agency assessment of ‘outstanding’ for financial health for over five years.
For further information about joining the Trust, email firstname.lastname@example.org