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Closure of 6th Form

From Julie C

Monday, 7 November 2016

One thing those suggesting leaving the Valley for 6th Form provision don't seem to take into account is the cost of travel.

Going West over the border to Rochdale means travelling outside the Metro region which instantly bumps the fares right up, making this option only available to those with the resources to pay.

From Cllr Susan Press

Monday, 7 November 2016

I really don't understand why the Greens have resorted to nasty personal attacks which are pretty uncalled for given I did my best to explain why this is happening. Clearly not listening

Labour is far from indifferent - I personally asked Stuart Smith the head of Children and Young Peoples Directorate to look at if we could merge sixth-forms in the Upper Valley if we didn't have the 250 which is now the 'viable' benchmark set by Government for individual schools to have a sixth-form - an independent review across Calderdale carried out in consultation with staff and governors concluded it was not viable.

Budgets are not controlled or allocated by Calderdale at all - they come from Central Government and Central Government is slashing the money.

Teaching unions estimate by a further £10 million across Calderdale by 2020. This is appalling and to suggest we are blasé about the cuts is a disgrace.

The only money we have is for building so we have ringfenced £7.4m for a new teaching block at Tod High and a new school for Ferney Lee - work starts in 2017 .

When a school gets into financial trouble - as Tod High is - we step in to help. That is our statutory duty. But we do not - repeat not - have the actual budget to play with.

It's a shame the Greens don't focus their anger on the right targets. Which is the Tory Government, now slashing education budgets. As for the nasty slurs - I thought better of them.

The only way things will change is via a Labour Government led by Jeremy Corbyn which is why many former Greens have seen sense and joined us.

From Matt B

Monday, 7 November 2016

When I went to 6th Form, the local authority I lived in (Barnsley) had just closed all the school 6th Forms and sent everyone to Barnsley College. It was an unmitigated disaster!

The College couldn't cope with all the students, the buildings were decrepit and completely unsuitable and the Principal had the stated aim of eliminating A Levels as he considered them elitist. Students aspiring to University, whatever next! The drop out rate was huge and a huge amount of potential was lost for pretty marginal financial gains

The jump from GCSE to A Level is a huge one. Surely, we owe it to our children to give them the best chance to achieve their full potential? In my experience, this is best done with smaller classes in a school environment where it is in everyone's interest to do well.

From Jim Metcalf

Monday, 7 November 2016

Well - there are no Sixth Forms in Bury, and have not been since the town's schools 'went' comprehensive many years ago.

Anecdotally even the local fee paying Bury Grammar School struggles with sixth form numbers as young people vote with their feet and go off to the town's Colleges.

Last year the Principal of Bury College proudly said that:"Last year approximately 900 of our students progressed to university, and this year's successes look set to exceed that significant achievement. I wish all Bury College students every success at university or in their chosen career."

The Principal of another College, Holy Cross, said that:"It is inspiring to see such a high proportion of A*, A and B grades. Our students holding Oxford and Cambridge offers have again been successful and will join the significant contingent of Holy Cross students at those universities. Russell Group and other competitive universities (and Medical and Law departments) will also welcome large numbers of our leavers."

Perhaps someone can explain why Barnsley and Bury are so different. The best way to educate young people is a complicated issue.

From Michael Prior

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

I fail to see where Susan Press' complaint about "nasty personal attacks" comes from. She was sent an email as the Cabinet Member - Neighbourhoods & Communities and Todmorden councillor asking for information about the announced closure of the 6th form.

As the press release states, she responds with information that was plain wrong including the number of pupils in Tod High 6th form and the numbers going to colleges in Lancashire. I note that she does not dispute this.

The most shocking thing in her reply, however, is not the duff information but the fact that she quite casually notes that all 3 local authority 6th forms in the Upper Valley are likely to close. Is the Council just going to do this without any consultation? Why are the academies which also have 6th forms below her claimed minimum level not also closing? Perhaps they will.

The OFSTED report on Tod 6th form is very complimentary (the link is in the news item) with no mention of its failing in any respect. It has a higher proportion of its roll staying on to the 6th than most other secondaries in Calderdale. The number of pupils going to Lancashire colleges has actually dropped in recent years. I could go on a lot longer but I suggest that people read the reports mentioned (As Susan Press appears not to have done).

Of course there are financial pressures on secondary education. But surely Calderdale Council, led by it Cabinet members should be devising a strategy for 6th form education including the obvious plan of merging Tod and Calderdale High which together have well over this rather arbitrary number of 250 pupils. If Sowerby is included the numbers are well over.
Come on councillors, do your job instead of moaning.

From Cllr Susan Press

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Michael Prior, I made it clear I had already asked senior officers re possible merger of Upper Valley sixth-forms - I was told a) schools did not want that b) the numbers were not viable.

My central point - we do not control funding the Government does - and the fact teaching unions are already warning of millions more cuts ahead under the Tories. You do not address that nor the fact we are committed to new buildings.

I am well aware of the OFSTed report - we discussed at length on a recent visit to the school. That's why the situation is particularly concerning. We are working with staff to try and sort out financial issues but we don 't have the budgets. They are centrally allocated by Government. As for 'duff information', I was relaying what officers told us so maybe you should clarify figures etc with them rather than attacking the Party doing its best to save services.

From Michael Prior

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Clr. Susan Press, a member of the Cabinet of the Council, seems to be saying that she discussed the closure of Todmorden High School 6th form and the possible merger of the three schools' provision with officers (something she has not revealed before) only to be told that the numbers were not viable.

She then says that the totally incorrect numbers that she provided in her email to Calderdale Green party (she does not dispute this) were given to her by these same officers.

Is she suggesting that officers have taken the closure decision using such incorrect data or that they know the real figures but are concealing them from her?

The correct data given in the Green Party press release (see HebWeb News) are taken from "Report on the 16-19 educational provision in Calderdale" commissioned by Stuart Smith, Director of Children's Services and published in March, 2016. Perhaps Ms Press could read this.

The query remains: is Clr. Press of the opinion that all three 6th forms in the Upper Valley are going to close?

From Graham Barker

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

As a parent with a child likely to enter sixth form in 2018, all this is very concerning and I share the view that at least some councillors appear not to be wholly on the ball.

A quick look at the most recent Ofsted reports for CHS, THS and SBHS indicates that the total of sixth formers in the three schools is indeed around 450 - surely perfectly viable as a combined Upper Valley sixth form. Who is saying otherwise, and on what grounds?

And why would schools not want to retain a sixth form resource, even if shared with other schools? A comprehensive with no A-level teaching is surely going to find it harder to attract good teachers.

The plot thickens when one goes to the CHS website and immediately sees an invitation to a sixth form open evening, the blurb for which includes: 'Calder High Sixth Form is moving from strength to strength…'

What exactly is going on? I seem to remember that Cllr Fenton-Glynn is an ex-CHS student. Perhaps he could give us his perspective on all this.

From David H

Thursday, 10 November 2016

It appears that Susan Press has been told from council officers that there are less than 250 pupils in the relevant Sixth Forms. This she would have accepted as true. That's what council officers are for - to provide councillors with relevant information. But now, having been made aware that OFSTED counted 450, it should be up to her to verify the figures with her officers, and not the responsibility of the messenger who told her, especially as a decision of fundamental importance is to be made using these figures.

From Paul D

Saturday, 12 November 2016

So when Tod High got into a little financial difficulty, which we all know was a huge overspend, unprecedented, where was our local authority? Asleep at the wheel that's where. Due to their total incompetence, we lose provision. They slept at their desks as a Head went on the educational equivalent of a trolley dash. It's legitimate to ask who knew what when as the consequences are staggering. Where was the oversight? Or is it all behind us now and we should move on?

See also

HebWeb News: Sixth Form Provision in the Upper Valley: calls for wider debate