College Announces Plan for Innovative Multi Academy Trust


A leading college in Cumbria will partner with a popular Barrow school in a move that will strengthen education across the area.

Furness College has approval to invite primary and secondary schools to join a new Multi Academy Trust (MAT) and Chetwynde is the first to sign up.

The trust will see the Barrow-based college share its expertise and strengths with its Rating Lane neighbour Chetwynde and other partners who join to further improve education for young people.

Furness College Principal and Chief Executive Andrew Wren said a South Cumbria MAT was an exciting new opportunity.

“This innovative new trust will have education at its heart and a real focus on pupils achieving their full potential and gaining valuable academic and life skills,” he said.

“We have a proven track record of working successfully with other colleges for the benefit of young people, employers and the wider community. We are delighted that Chetwynde, with its strong ethos and unique place in the history of education in this town, has become our first partner. We’ve had interest from various schools and we hope to launch this in September.”

The Regional Schools Commissioner has approved the trust, recognising the value that such a partnership would bring. Prospective board members have been identified with the aim of combining a wealth of expertise across both education and business.

Chetwynde Headteacher Steve Jefferson said the opportunity has come at the right time for the school, which has gone from strength-to-strength under his leadership. “We have been working closely with Furness College for a number of years and have been impressed with their willingness to share expertise and knowledge for the benefit of the whole education community.

“When we heard about the MAT, it seemed a perfect way to formalise that relationship and give our students a more seamless opportunity to learn new skills and prepare for the next steps in their education.”

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. Mr Jefferson is a former student of the sixth form, having studied his A Levels there.

Professor Wren, who is from Cumbria, said as well as benefiting from connections with the University of Cumbria’s Institute of Education where he is professor of practice, a MAT would strengthen links with the schools opening doors for pupils to be able to engage with the college as part of their curriculum.

“It will help young people to learn new skills and experience future opportunities on our campuses with guidance from our expert teachers with valuable industry experience,” he said.

Furness College 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

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