Merger Proposal

Our Vision for the Future

This webpage presents our exciting vision for the future of Bilborough Sixth Form College and Derby College as a single further and higher education group delivering education and skills training for its communities through its constituent colleges, to be created through our proposal. In the proposed merger Derby College would be the continuing legal entity through its corporation, with a proposed change of corporation name from Derby College Corporation to DCG (see below) with effect from the merger date.

Bilborough Sixth Form College undertook a comprehensive strategic review (Structure and Prospects Appraisal) in the summer of 2017, the purpose of which was to confirm a sustainable long-term solution and where appropriate identify a suitable merger partner. Bilborough Sixth Form College specified that the solution would be to facilitate the retention of its identity, its location within its community and sustain the quality and nature of the sixth form college experience for which Bilborough Sixth Form College is renowned. At the same time, that partnership had to demonstrate good financial health to support Bilborough Sixth Form College’s future sustainability.

In addition, Bilborough Sixth Form College sought a partner that could help the College take advantage of new opportunities such as developing technical pathways, in line with Government priorities, that would bring additional benefits to its existing students and would support greater engagement with its local community.

As an established general further and higher education provider offering the broadest range of provision to students of all ages, Derby College recognises the strength that Bilborough Sixth Form College would bring to its group and is confident that a joining will bring immense benefits to the communities of Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.

This website sets out the context of the proposal and the rationale for the merger with the perceived benefits and opportunties for students, parents, employers, staff and the wider community. It also seeks to draw informed comment from our stakeholders.

Our intention is to merge Derby College and Bilborough Sixth Form College with the constituent colleges continuing to operate under their existing brands and local identities. Our aim is to improve the educational opportunities for the communities our colleges serve as well as securing a stronger financial future for the combined Group.

Janet Morgan
Chair, Derby College

Eileen Hartley
Chair, Bilborough Sixth Form College

Who we are

Bilborough Sixth Form College was founded in 1975 on the site of former Bilborough Grammar School. It is a publicly funded sixth form college located on the west side of Nottingham. It moved into its current, purposebuilt campus in 2005. It currently has 1,620 16-18 year-old students (comprising 1,618 full time students and 2 part time students) on individual programmes of study centred around either A Levels, BTEC Level 3 Diplomas or a combination of the two. Approximately 80% of its students go on to university. Of these a large proportion progress to research-intensive universities such as the Russell Group and the remainder into higher-level apprenticeships, employment or further training.

The College was judged to be ‘Good’ in all respects by Ofsted during its last inspection in September 2016. Ofsted stated that ‘students are proud of their achievements and are articulate and self-confident. They are respectful of each other and, as a result, the College offers a welcoming and inclusive environment in which students feel happy and safe.’

Derby College operates under the brand name of Derby College Group or DCG and is referred to as DCG throughout this proposal. Derby College was formed in 2002 as a result of a three-way merger between Mackworth and Wilmorton tertiary colleges and landbased college Broomfield Hall. In 2010, a merger was undertaken, which saw the former South East Derbyshire College join the Group. The Group currently operates out of four college campuses across Derby and Derbyshire, has a turnover of around £48 million and provides employment for nearly 1,300 people. Its closest campus is only 5 miles away from Bilborough Sixth Form College.

DCG is one of England’s largest groups with more than 20,000 students. These include 14 to 16-year-old students who attend vocational and technical courses, full time students aged 16 to 19 on a wide range of A level, vocational and technical programmes, higher education students, mature and part time students, apprentices, work-based students and those adults wanting to learn for leisure.

The Group currently includes:

  • The Joseph Wright Centre – Post-16 Academic and Arts College.
  • Broomfield Hall – Land-based and Leisure College.
  • The Roundhouse –Technical and Professional Skills College, including Construction and Engineering.
  • Ilkeston Campus – Technical Skills College.
  • St James Centre – providing literacy, numeracy and ESOL for adults in the community.
  • Little Explorers – a forest school nursery.
  • A limited company, MBS Limited, which provides a conference and events service under the brand of Roundhouse Events.
  • Commercial training under the brand of Roundhouse Thinking.
  • Roundhouse Recruitment, a job agency to help students find full and part-time employment.
  • Corporate College providing education and skills services to business.

DCG was graded ‘Good’ with ‘Outstanding’ features. Its work with employers was recognised as ‘Outstanding’ and provision for students with high needs was graded as ‘Outstanding’ at its latest Ofsted inspection.

DCG works in partnership with around 3,000 employers. This work includes programmes to bridge the gap between education and the workplace and manage all students onto positive destinations.

What is the Proposal?

Our proposal is for a merger of Bilborough Sixth Form College with DCG, whereby the property, rights and liabilities of Bilborough Sixth Form College would transfer to DCG on 1 January 2019 and Bilborough Sixth Form College corporation would immediately thereafter dissolve. The constituent colleges will retain their current names and identities, which have strong value within the communities they serve. Bilborough Sixth Form College students who have not completed their courses on the merger date will be able to continue their courses of study on the same campus as planned.

Change of Name of Derby College Corporation to DCG

It is proposed that the name of Derby College Corporation would formally change to DCG with effect from the merger date.

Why should Bilborough Sixth Form College merge with DCG?

Based on the outcome of the strategic review undertaken in the summer of 2017 Bilborough Sixth Form College governors reached the conclusion that DCG was most likely to meet the Bilborough Sixth Form College key objectives. The anticipated benefits to Bilborough Sixth Form College of the proposed merger are that it will allow the College to:

  • Maintain its local presence, culture, identity and strong reputation.
  • Secure financial strength and sustainability.
  • Maintain and further develop high quality student experience and outcomes.
  • Build on a broad curriculum offer to further strengthen the range of provision, for example the proposed ‘T levels’.
  • Provide access to high quality corporate services
  • Enable flexibility to shape the curriculum offer to meet the local, regional (D2N2) Local Economic Partnership (LEP).
  • Provide enhanced opportunities for students and staff through a wider learning community.
  • Offer the opportunity for local community learning through career advancement programmes as well as learning for leisure.
  • Address the D2N2 Local Economic Partnership (LEP) Area Based Review recommendation.
  • Support the ethos of the Nottingham/Derby Metro Strategy.

The merger is expected to be extremely beneficial to both institutions. Bilborough Sixth Form College will be able to retain its successful local identity and realise its ambitions for future stability and growth. DCG will be able to utilise expertise and specialisms across the region to benefit a wider group.

What will be the benefits of the proposal?

There are a number of benefits that will be achieved through a merger between the two organisations. Bilborough Sixth Form College will become part of the DCG family. The enlarged group would have a ‘Good’ financial health rating and the capacity to invest in provision. The merger will create a stronger, more resilient group organisation that will be more sustainable in the context of challenging times for the education sector.

High Quality Education offer

In March 2016, Ofsted inspected and awarded DCG with a ‘Good’ overall grading with ‘Outstanding’ features. Employer Engagement was recognised as ‘Outstanding’ and Provision for Students with High Needs was graded ‘Outstanding’. Ofsted judged the curriculum to be strategically planned and responsive, meeting local needs, including those identified by the D2N2 LEP. Of note is the positive recognition given by Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, in his final annual report of 2016, highlighting the partnerships formed by DCG with employers. DCG’s residential accommodation at Broomfield Hall was judged as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted in 2014, and the Group’s nursery provision – Little Explorers – was graded as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted at their last inspection in November 2016. Ofsted’s findings complement other formal assessments. The Group’s growing HE provision was praised by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education following their inspection in May 2015, who recognised that the offer of vocationally relevant courses enabled students to become more employable.

Bilborough Sixth Form College was judged to be ‘Good’ in all respects by Ofsted during its last inspection in September 2016. Among other remarks, inspectors commented that “teaching is consistently good and students work hard”, students make good progress and achieve their qualifications”, “students benefit from a highly effective enrichment programme”, “the vast majority of students progress to higher education with many gaining places at highly selective universities” and “the College has an inclusive culture in which students with diverse identities feel welcome and safe. They show respect and tolerance towards each other.”

High quality teaching and learning will remain a priority for investment and development throughout the Group.

Enhanced Student Experience

Under the proposed arrangements, there are considerable benefits for students in the D2N2 LEP region. Enhanced support for Bilborough Sixth Form College to enable the continuity of an excellent and distinct offer, which the below examples support:

  • Increased access to staff expertise in highly specialist areas will be available to enhance existing programmes.
  • Greater access to specialist facilities to enhance and enrich the learning experience.
  • Growth of new curriculum areas to meet employer and student needs in the region.
  • Enhanced links to businesses and work experience through prestigious local and national employers already working in partnership with DCG.
  • Opportunities for progression will be enhanced through development of new higher-level provision and clear progression routes to other DCG divisions where this provision does not exist locally.
  • Accredited Information, Advice and Guidance supporting all students to fulfil their potential.

Increased Opportunities for Staff

Through merger, staff will benefit from enhanced career progression opportunities and CPD. It is envisaged that a substantial and thriving academic community would evolve. Opportunities for scholarly research and new communities of practice will become available, as will the potential for collaboration on new curriculum, pedagogical and strong pastoral initiatives.

Staff will benefit from support from DCG Business Partners and specialists where this may be needed and they will join a network of similar professionals across DCG for greater networking opportunities.

A merger between Bilborough Sixth Form College and DCG will assist both parties in talent management and succession planning.

Supporting our Communities

Bilborough Sixth Form College would benefit from DCG’s outstanding engagement with employers and increased opportunities for involving employers in the co-creation of technical and vocational curriculum as well as wider employer links to enrich students’ experience and progression pathways. DCG’s continuing vision is to manage all students onto positive, sustained destinations and to track their progress through their career. This vision includes all study programme students having an embedded work experience, with a line of sight to future employment, directly or after higher-level education. Sustained employment, and career progression/salary progression, will be tracked via the DCG alumni.

The merger will increase capacity to work with local schools, organisations and key stakeholders.

Bilborough Sixth Form College will benefit from an expansion of DCG’s community activities to meet the needs and support the aspirations of Bilborough Sixth Form College’s local communities.

Contributing to the Regional Economy

The merger will enable an expansion of the engagement with local employers – giving more opportunities for work experience and access to higher apprenticeship opportunities.

The Group will continue to support businesses to meet their goals through the provision of skilled individuals, and thereby supporting economic prosperity.

Bilborough Sixth Form College and DCG’s curriculum offer will continue to be shaped by the local economic picture and the requirements of employers and students alike.

What Happens Next?

This is a formal consultation as required by the regulations governing proposals for the merger of Further Education Colleges. To date, the Further Education Commissioner and the Education and Skills Funding Agency have expressed support for this proposal.

Key Activities
Consultation on proposal launched March 2018
Due Diligence Activities March 2018
Consultation on proposal closes May 2018
Consultation Report submitted to both College Corporations May 2018
Merger proceeds if agreed June 2018
Proposed merger date 1 January 2019

Statutory Notice

The Corporation of Bilborough Sixth Form College, College Way, Nottingham, NG8 4DQ, gives notice in accordance with the Sixth Form College Corporations (Publication of Proposals) (England) Regulations 2012, SI 2012, No 1158, of the proposal for the transfer of its property, rights and liabilities to the Corporation of Derby College, The Roundhouse, Roundhouse Road, Pride Park, Derby, DE24 8JE and the subsequent dissolution of the Corporation of Bilborough Sixth Form College.

Subject to the consent of the Secretary of State, Derby College Corporation intend to change its name to DCG with effect from the date of merger.

Bilborough Sixth Form College is a provider of further and higher vocational education for students aged 14 and over. It has 1,620 16-18 year old students (1,618 full time students and 2 part time students) on individual programmes of study centred around either A Levels, BTEC Level 3 Diplomas or a combination of the two. Dissolution of Bilborough College is proposed so that Bilborough Sixth Form College may merge with DCG.

The date proposed for the dissolution of Bilborough Sixth Form College is 1 January 2019. Bilborough Sixth Form College students who have not completed their courses on that date will be able to continue their courses of study on the same campus as planned.

The colleges believe that the merger will create a stronger, more resilient group organisation that will be more sustainable in the context of challenging times for the education sector.

The consultation period runs from 12 March 2018 to 4 May 2018.

All responses to the proposal must be received by 5pm on Friday 4 May 2018. Bilborough Sixth Form College will publish a summary of the feedback and its outcome within two months of the closing date.


DCG Bilborough Merger Consultation brochure (PDF)

Have Your Say

All responses must be received no later than 5pm on Friday 4 May 2018.

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