Students who worked tirelessly to keep New Mills Sixth Form open in the face of funding cuts “did all we could”.
The final decision to close the post-16 facility was made by Derbyshire County Council cabinet members on Tuesday after school governors put forward the proposal earlier in the year.
Sixth form pupil Anna Bagnall helped organise a mass walk-out of students in protest to the proposed closure. She said: “We did all we could and if the county council has fully thought of the detriment and impact this will have on students in the area then what more can we do?
“I’m really sad and think it is the wrong decision but it wasn’t mine to make. Now the younger pupils need to be supported as they look for alternative education outside of the area.”
Rising costs, reductions in Central Government funding and a continuing fall in student numbers were the primary reasons behind the proposal to close the sixth form.
The number of sixth form students had fallen from 180 in the 2007/08 academic year to 87 in 2015/16 and with numbers so low and many class sizes as small as 3-4 students, the cost of sixth form provision was very high.
Headteacher Debbie McGloin said: “The recommendation to close the sixth form to new intake after this year was one the governors made very reluctantly, but it was motivated by our responsibility to protect the best interests of all the pupils in the school.” A Derbyshire County Council spokesman said: “The continued fall in student numbers, particularly in the sixth form, has brought us to the point where it is no longer viable for the school to provide post-16 education after the 2017/18 school year.
“While we understand the feeling of disappointment that this decision will bring to many in the local community, had we not supported this recommendation there could have been a very real risk to the future of the entire school.”
Mrs McGloin added: “We truly recognise the significance of this decision and we understand the value the local community places on the post-16 provision we offer.
“It has been heartening to hear from many local people, and from our students past and present, who have expressed their support for retaining a sixth form at the school.”
The school will not have a year 12 intake next September and will close its sixth form in August 2018 after the current AS students have finished their studies.