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Stronger Together - Selby College and Wakefield College

17th January 2022: ‘Heart of Yorkshire Education Group’ preparing to launch

Following the Secretary of State’s approval, Selby College and Wakefield College are delighted to confirm that their plans to form a new combined group are progressing on schedule, with the merger date confirmed as 1st March 2022.

This follows the Secretary of State’s endorsement of the merged organisation’s name, ‘Heart of Yorkshire Education Group’, which aims to meet the education and skills needs across Yorkshire from its campuses in Castleford, Selby and Wakefield.

Feedback from the public consultation process - which ran from 21st October to 22nd November 2021 - demonstrated that the stakeholders for both Colleges were overwhelmingly in favour of the plans to form the new organisation, serving the skills needs of the region.

Respondents agreed that the merger would develop and expand course offerings for students, improve learning through the sharing of best practice, meet local skills demands and create more opportunities for professional growth.

Andrew McConnell OBE, currently Chair of Governors at Wakefield College and the designated Chair of Governors at the Heart of Yorkshire Education Group, said: “Following an open and transparent public consultation process, I’m delighted to say that learners, staff, employers, partners and other stakeholders of both Colleges have responded extremely positively to all of our plans to merge.”

He added: “The support of our stakeholders is crucial as we progress with our exciting plans to become one organisation. Together, we are able to combine our strengths, share best practices and enhance our offering, helping to meet the education and skills demands of our local communities and the wider region at what is a critical time, as we work to rebuild the economy following the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Chair of Governors at Selby College, Richard Stiff, added: “I’m extremely pleased that we have received a positive response to our plans to merge with Wakefield College. By doing so, we are able to become a single, larger, more robust organisation, which can deliver a responsive curriculum and an absolute focus on quality, standards and excellence for the communities we serve in North Yorkshire, the East Riding, West Yorkshire and beyond.”

Sam Wright, who has been Principal and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Wakefield College since 2011 and also became interim Principal and CEO of Selby College from 1st January 2022, will become the designated leader for the combined organisation from the date of merger.

Sam said: “I’d like to thank everyone who responded to our consultation for their support and feedback. We are making great progress - colleagues and teams within both Colleges are already working closely and effectively together to merge operations, combine workstreams, share resources and develop plans for our new Group, ensuring that there is a seamless transition period. This will ultimately enable us to become one, strong organisation, with a clear vision in mind – to make a positive impact on our local communities.”

She added: “I’m also delighted that our proposed group name was so strongly supported and that we have now received full approval from the Secretary of State. The location of our Colleges means that we will be in the ‘Heart of Yorkshire’ geographically and we also aim to be the beating heart of the communities we serve. Underneath our new group name, we will be maintaining the names and identities of our existing individual Colleges and campuses as well – with continuing local brands for Castleford College, Selby College and Wakefield College.

“As we move to become one organisation, there will be no change to students’ or apprentices’ chosen place of study and no requirement for learners to travel between the different campuses. There will also be no effect on applications to any of the Colleges for the academic year 2022-2023 – students will be able to attend the College they initially apply for.”

In the coming months, colleagues within both Colleges will be working closely together to develop the Heart of Yorkshire Education Group’s identity, including its strategic vision, mission, values and objectives.

Selby College and Wakefield College Merger Consultation Summary Document
Selby College and Wakefield College Consultation Document
Draft Dissolution Notice - Selby College

23rd June 2021: Yorkshire colleges announce plans for merger

The Governing Bodies of Selby College and Wakefield College have announced plans to merge.

The new college group will serve the education and skills needs of residents and employers from their campuses in Castleford, Selby and Wakefield with a wider range of courses and apprenticeships at all levels and enhanced support for all.

Chair of Governors at Selby College, Richard Stiff, said: “We are delighted to confirm our intention to merge with Wakefield College. We are incredibly impressed by Wakefield College’s open and collaborative approach and its leaders’ strong focus on delivering excellence for the communities it serves, which matches our own track record.”

“It is clear our two organisations have similar cultures, values and aspirations and we believe that, together, we will provide a superb experience for the communities we serve.”

Andrew McConnell OBE, Chair of Governors at Wakefield College, said: “I am delighted at the prospect of us merging with Selby College. Over the last ten years, Wakefield College has been on an incredible journey, and we are now one of the strongest colleges in the country in terms of our financial position and our provision, which is continuously improving. Our aspiration is to be the absolute best, and we believe we will achieve this in partnership with Selby College.”

He added: “Skills development will be critical to the region’s recovery from Covid-19 and we are committed to combining our expertise to support our residents and employers in reskilling and upskilling to respond to and anticipate labour market needs. We will work with learners and businesses across West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire and into the East Riding, including in the town of Goole, as Selby College does now.”

Sam Wright, who has been Principal and CEO of Wakefield College since 2011, is to be the designated leader for the combined organisation. Phil Sayles, Principal and CEO at Selby College, will be leaving prior to merger to become Principal and CEO at Bournemouth and Poole College on the south coast.

Sam Wright said: “I am thrilled at the prospect of our two colleges coming together. Throughout the process, we have been struck by the clear synergies between us, and the exciting opportunities that this merger will present. Colleagues at Wakefield and I are really looking to working alongside the team at Selby College to make our joint vision a reality.”

Phil Sayles said: “Over the past months, whilst we have been exploring this opportunity, the commitment and passion that Sam and colleagues at Wakefield have shown has been fantastic. There is a real meeting of minds about how to work together and what we can build.

“This merger will strengthen the experience our students receive in college, with great study options and more resources to increase ‘wrap-around’ support and the vibrancy of college life. Lecturers and staff in the colleges will be able to work together to share expertise and resources.”

Sam Wright added: “We recognise the special place both Selby and Wakefield Colleges have for people in their local communities, and we want to maintain and enhance this. In addition, by combining our strengths under a powerful group structure, we will be able to accelerate our growth and deliver the best possible services for students and employers.

“Colleagues within the college, as well as students, are always at the forefront of our thinking and we firmly believe that joining together will add positive value to our staff bodies. We are looking forward to working together, sharing our expertise, and taking forward absolute best practice to build a superb institution that really delivers regional priorities.”

During the merger process the two colleges will consult extensively with all stakeholders – students, staff, employers and representatives within the communities the colleges serve, and the wider region. This statutory consultation will take place later in the year, with a plan to achieve merger by 1st March 2022.

The priority for both colleges will be to minimise disruption to students and staff and to ensure a seamless transition period. There will be no change to students’ chosen place of study, but they will have the added benefit of a wider range of resources and facilities, as well as enhanced course choices.