Axe could fall on New Mills Sixth Form in four weeks

New Mills School
New Mills School

New Mills Sixth Form will face a final four-week consultation before it can be formally closed.

Derbyshire County Council cabinet members voted for the notice to close the sixth form and sixth form provision at New Mills School and the results will be reported at the next meeting.

High Peak Borough Councillor Dave Lomax was at the meeting, accused the cabinet of making the consultation period pointless.

He said: “You are cynically manipulating this managed closure.”
He went on to say there was no application for students who wished to enrol in September 2017 so it had already been decided the provision will not continue.

Derbyshire cabinet member for children’s services Councillor Jim Coyle said: “This is the school governors decision, not a county council decision.

“The council is not cynical, it was at the request of the sixth form campaigners that the topic be deferred from the July meeting to now and it is not Derbyshire County Council which funds post-16 education.”
He went on to explain the school in March 2015 had a deficit of £240,000 which would grow £1.2m in three years if nothing was done to rectify it.

New Mills Sixth Form currently has 87 students − Year 12 and Year 13 combined. The Department for Education has issued guidance that new sixth forms should not be approved unless they can expect to attract at least 200 students.

Leader of the cabinet Anne Western said: “As Jim Coyle said this is not something we are directly responsible for but we needed to ensure everything is done legally.

“It is difficult to see many options for the school to pursue.”
At the meeting the cabinet said in the county two other post-16 provisions had closed down but as they were academies the council had no say in them and it was just a letter to parents, however this process was different.

New Mills School has made enquiries with all neighbouring post-16 providers and expects there would be sufficient places for its students in future, should the closure go ahead.

High Peak Borough Councillor for New Mills West Ray Atkins, wanted to know if the consultation would be active and potential students from other schools such as Chapel-en-le-Frith High School also be notified.

Jim Coyle responded and said it would be very ‘comprehensive and thorough’.

If agreed it would mean the sixth form would close at the end of August 2018.