A SIXTH form college in Blackburn has announced a merger with a university and a similar establishment.

Back in 2017 St Mary's confirmed it was experiencing financial problems, due to falling student numbers.

But now the principal credited with turning around the fortunes of the 94-year-old institution will lead the newly-created Federation of Hope.

The move unites the Shear Brow college with Liverpool Hope University and Cheadle & Marple Sixth Form College.

Jenny Singleton, who was drafted in at St Mary's after the sixth-form was given a financial notice to improve two years ago, heads up the federation.

She said the combination, bringing together religious and secular organisations under one umbrella, would present "fantastic opportunities".

Mrs Singleton added: "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."

One benefit will see students working on their post-graduate teaching certificates given the chance to study in Blackburn or Cheadle.

Staff development, provided by Hope, is another goal of the venture.