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Over the ensuing months, management team members at Easton and Otley were put through the proverbial wringer, hosting more monitoring visits than they had hot teas.
When the monitors said 'jump', the college jumped, complying with every piece of advice, always keen to ensure that no one could turn around at the end of the process and say: 'You could have done it better.'But despite all this, Mr Atkins concluded the college could no longer continue in its present form and must therefore come up with a plan. The college pulled out all the stops and actively sought potential suitors.
The college, formed in 2012 after a merger between Easton College and Otley College, offers courses such as agriculture, horticulture and animal studies.Principal Jane Townsend said: "We now have a clear direction for securing the future of land-based provision in the region."My team is fully committed to ensuring that during this period of transition, we will continue to drive improvements in the quality of teaching and learning, and at Easton and Otley it will be 'business as usual' for students as we teach and inspire the future leaders of our sector."Corrienne Peasgood, chief executive and principal of City College Norwich, said: "Together we have an ambitious, robust and realistic plan in place for bringing about the required changes, whilst ensuring that Easton and Otley College's current and future students do not experience any disruption to their learning and are able to complete their courses and progress as planned."The commissioner has proposed that the merger be completed by December 31, with a public consultation and an internal business review to take place before then.If the merger goes ahead, then the University of East Anglia and the College of West Anglia will be close working partners, supporting the delivery of further and higher education courses.New chair Mark Pendlington, an industry heavyweight, set about transforming the college's structures, appointing a new board and recruiting a new principal, Jane Townsend.Together, they embarked on a programme of radical reform, but one of their first - and most painful - tasks was to get the budget under control.