A BLACKBURN college has announced jobs are at risk two months after it was told it was in 'financial failure'.

St Mary's College in Blackburn, which has around 170 staff, is looking at reducing its staff by 'less than five full time posts' with bosses hoping it can be done voluntarily.

The Shear Brow sixth form college was also recently downgraded by Ofsted to 'requires improvement'.

The college's acting principal Grant Birchby, who took over from Frank Dixon following his retirement in February, has previously spoken about the challenges all colleges are facing in balancing their budgets.


In March, the college was ordered by the Education Funding Agency, which administers cash to colleges on behalf of the Department for Education, to put in place an action plan after it was graded inadequate in relation to its financial health.

Paul Williamson, northern England director for the EFA, said the plan should look at further staff savings for 2016/17 and 2017/18 as well as a thorough review of curriculum areas.

Meanwhile the sixth form was recently downgraded by education watchdog Ofsted after inspectors found students were not meeting the grades they are capable of and senior leaders had not taken effective action to ensure all students achieve their potential.

However inspectors recognised Mr Birchby and his team have already implemented a number of initiatives to improve.

One source warned cuts to staffing could lead to larger class sizes which will leave the 'quality of learning impoverished'.

A college spokesman said: "Like many other schools and colleges across the country, St Mary’s RC Sixth Form College is having to respond to the many challenges our national funding formula creates.

"It is with regret that the college has to make a very small number of staffing reductions. St Mary’s is confident that the quality of teaching and learning and experience of our students will not be affected."

Cllr Hussain Akhtar, who covers the Shear Brow ward, said he was saddened by the news.

He said: "We want to get the best results for the college students which is harder if they do not have the staff.

"Cuts to education are making a real difference."

The college has more than 1,000 students on its roll.

When the college was issued with a financial notice to improve Mr Birchby said: "The funding rate for students has been frozen for the last few years representing a cut in real terms.

"It is highly disappointing that many colleges and schools, locally and nationally, are experiencing difficulties balancing their budgets."

It is understood unions are in the process of holding meetings with staff members.