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The University has partnered with St Mary’s sixth-form college in Blackburn and Cheadle & Marple sixth-form college to form the ground-breaking Federation of Hope initiative.
The Federation is a unique model of education that unites the colleges, which are from faith and non-faith backgrounds, to work together for the benefit of students within their community.
The colleges had previously developed close links when Cheadle & Marple Principal Jenny Singleton was asked to lend her expertise to St Mary’s after it experienced financial problems in 2017.
Ms Singleton helped transform the fortunes of the 94-year-old college, which was founded in 1925, and will now take the role of Principal at both colleges along with becoming chief executive of the Federation.
St Mary’s had already been part of the University’s Network of Hope, which is a partnership with a number of sixth-form colleges in the region to offer flexible, higher education courses to communities which would otherwise not have the provision.
Ms Singleton said “The Federation will bring ‘fantastic opportunities’ for the three institutions, allowing Hope to place students studying for their PGCE at the colleges while also hoping to attract new students from Lancashire and Greater Manchester.
“The colleges can also benefit in various ways, such as using Hope’s expertise to help with their staff development, training and creating new opportunities for their pupils.”
She said: “St Mary’s, Cheadle & Marple and Hope have similar values when it comes to promoting learning. Whether we’re Catholic, ecumenical or a non faith-based establishment we can work together to better the lives of young people and enable them to achieve great things.
“We show solidarity by our commonality of values and willingness to work for the common good. I’m excited to move forward.
“Now they’re very supportive and actually quite excited because it could be a road-map for other faith and non-faith institutions to work together.”
David Lambrick, chair of the board of Governors at Cheadle and Marple, said: “This is an opportunity to do something very new and very unique.
“We are very proud of our diversity and wide range of services and now we feel like we are joining a bigger community, with a real synergy, and together we will go from strength to strength.”
Nick McNeil, chair of the board of Governors at St Mary’s said: “We’ve already seen the benefits of collaboration and let’s not forget that St Mary’s are also partners through the Marist European Network with educational establishments in France, Italy, Germany and Ireland, so I’m sure there will be opportunities for the Federation to benefit from this network as well.
“To quote Hope’s Vice Chancellor Professor Gerald Pillay in the final chapter of his book ‘Foundation of Hope’: ‘To “have hope” or more correctly to live in hope, is to live in the confidence of the end result”.