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Sixth form proposal for Worcester school
Updated 4:31pm Monday 10th March 2014 in News
A NEW sixth form college offering A level qualifications could be created at Christopher Whitehead Language College.
The academy, on Bromwich Road, St Johns, said there was significant demand from parents and students for it to provide further education and is looking to create a 220-pupil sixth form.
If the proposals are successful, the new sixth form could be open by September 2015.
Currently, Worcester Sixth Form College and Tudor Grange Academy Worcester provide A level qualifications with Worcester Technology College offering vocational qualifications.
The consultation letter signed by headteacher Neil Morris and Graham Evans, chair of governors, said the school, which has over 1100 students, had the capacity to meet the needs of extra pupils without external capital investment.
Haybridge High School in Hagley, which has a sixth form and teaching school, has agreed to work with Christopher Whitehead and offer it guidance and support with its potential transition from a 11 to 16 school to a 11 to 18 school.
The letter said: "Christopher Whitehead believes that now is the ideal time to provide an academic sixth form.
"Parents and pupils have given us reliable feedback that there is a need for alternative provision to the A levels provided at Worcester Sixth Form College."
It said students were having to take two buses to reach the sixth form college and also made a "difficult transition to the unfamiliar environment and systems of an FE college or to another school's sixth form without many of the strong networks which have supported and encouraged them during their previous five years".
The letter continued: "For 11-16 schools in our area, an alternative A level provision can only be beneficial providing their students choice, of course, and in many cases a nearer post 16 institution involving less travel and a school based setting more suitable for some students."
But Michael Kitcatt, principal of Worcester Sixth Form College, said he did not believe the city needed another sixth form college.
He also warned of the potential for specialist subjects to be dropped if they were no longer attracting enough students.
"We do currently take a large number of students from Christopher Whitehead and I am sure many would continue to come to us because we do offer a very, very wide curriculum.
"It is a wider range of courses found in any school sixth form.
"Also, Worcester Sixth Form College nationally gets extremely good results.
"I think large numbers would still come to us even if Christopher Whitehead does have a sixth form.
"Theoretically speaking though, if it meant fewer students were enrolling on specialist subject courses we may have to review those we offer.
"It could lead to some not being run which would be detrimental to all students."
The letter from Christopher Whitehead said the new sixth form would be far enough away from the sixth form college to have very little impact.
Worcester Sixth Form College, based on Spetchley Road, has over 1,600 pupils with up to about 100 coming from Christopher Whitehead.
Responding to claims that some students found it difficult to get to the college, Mr Kitcatt said transport links were good with a number of direct buses serving St Johns as well as financial assistance available to students.
"I'm a big fan of the system we have now in Worcester with high schools providing education from 11 to 16 then a separate college providing 16 to 18 education.
"It is a more adult environment and I think it is an extremely good system and we also offer excellent support to our students."
Blessed Edward Oldcorne Catholic College, Timberdine Avenue, off Bath Road, wanted to create a sixth form but was refused permission by the Learning and Skills Council in 2006.
Principal Sean Devlin said that while the school did not currently intend to have a sixth form students often said they would like to continue their further education at the school.
A consultation period will run until Monday, April 7 with a public meeting, led by Mr Morris and Mr Evans, set to be held in the school hall at 7pm on Thursday, March 20.
A final report will be submitted to the Education Funding Authority at the end of the consultation period. The authority will then make a recommendation to the Secretary of State who will decide if the school can proceed with the sixth form provision.
The consultation letter and questionnaire are available at http://www.christopherwhitehead.worcs.sch.uk/.
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