THE merger of two Swindon schools will offer an opportunity to 'transform life chances' a principal has said.

New College and Swindon College will join forces by the end of July.

They have agreed to develop a new £21 million Institute of Technology to help tackle a skills shortage in science, technology, engineering and maths subjects.

Answering parents and students’ questions during a virtual Q&A on Thursday, principal at New College Carole Kitching said the merger aims to take the very best of both colleges to improve academic performance and employability.

She said: “We talk about a future growing together. We don’t just mean growing as a single college, but it’s about our students learning about our community and our economy growing as well.

“We want to offer the very best to people of Swindon and our region and we plan to do that by keeping and developing both campuses.”

The Swindon College site will be home to the IOT, which will offer degrees, foundation degrees and apprenticeships.

Mrs Kitching added: “We think of this as the opportunity to transform the life chances for young people and adults.

“We are developing a culture of continuous improvement. We’ll be innovative, thinking outside the box, and the students will be at the heart of everything we do.

“Our people, our teachers, our support staff are key to the success of the merger.”

Students starting in September 2020 or currently studying at the colleges will stay in their current locations, while having the opportunity to access resources in both sites.

“We want to make that there is continuity for students,” Mrs Kitching said.

She added: “Over the next five years, we would want to be in a position to say we can offer outstanding courses and conditions in all the areas we are teaching and that the IOT is bustling full of students, teachers and employers. “

Principal of Swindon College Steve Wain said: “Students won't believe that they are from Swindon College or New College, they just become part of the same institution and that process tends to happen within a year or two years at most.”

The consultation period runs until April 16 and both colleges are encouraging parents and students to express their views.