Mayor Andy Preston has welcomed the Head Master of Eton College to Middlesbrough after plans were announced to open a new sixth form in the town.

Eton Head Master Simon Henderson was joined on Wednesday’s visit by Star Academies’ Director of Education Lisa Crausby.

Eton and Star last week confirmed their intention to open new colleges in Middlesbrough, Dudley and Oldham.

The new college in Middlesbrough is planned to open in 2025, subject to funding and all other legal requirements.

Eton and Star would develop the admission criteria for the new college, with both institutions committed to giving opportunities to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds through their partnership.

Mayor Preston and Deputy Mayor Mieka Smiles gave the representatives from Eton and Star a brief tour of the Middlehaven area, to show how a new college could be part of the area’s transformation.

Mayor Preston said: “Our area is going to see a population boom in the 16-19 age category in the coming years.

“The Tees Valley area will soon have an extra 5,000 young people in that bracket and it’s clear our area will need a new college.

“I’m determined that a new college comes to Middlesbrough and the national news story that Eton and Star want to open a sixth form here fits perfectly with the fact we will need an additional sixth form.

“The partnership’s proposed college focusing on bright but deprived kids will fantastically complement our brilliant existing schools and colleges.

“This would be massive for the North East and be another huge piece in a monstrous social and physical regeneration jigsaw that is transforming our town’s heart.

“The potential of the wider Middlesbrough area is gigantic and I’m ecstatic Eton and Star Academies have recognised that. Following last week’s announcement councils across the country have contacted Star desperately trying to find out how they can be part of this story.

“A new sixth form of this nature would help us get more Teesside children into top universities.

“Central Middlesbrough is already home to the world-class Teesside University and amazing further education and specialist art colleges.

“Welcoming Eton and Star into the mix would cement Middlesbrough as a regional capital for educational standards and the ambition of young people.”

Eton and Star intend to bid in the next wave of the Department for Education’s Free School Programme, a process expected to get under way in the next few months.

If the bid is successful, Middlesbrough Council would explore the plans further alongside the existing education institutions in the town.