A High Peak school is considering closing its sixth form centre.
New Mills School and Sixth Form, which currently has 87 students, has decided to consult on a proposal not to recruit new sixth form students from September 2017.
If agreed it would mean the sixth form would close at the end of August 2018, but this would not impact on high school students’ education.
Headteacher Debbie McGloin said: “We have regretfully come to the conclusion that we are unable to provide the breadth of courses, including a wide range of vocational and A level subjects, that sixth form students need.” The average sixth form college has around 1,700 students, while the average school sixth form has a little over 200 and in January 2016 there were only 87 students on the roll at New Mills Sixth Form.
The highest number of students was 111 back in 2011 and as the way post-16 students are funded in schools and colleges has changed and funding has gradually declined over the last two years this has had a particular impact on small sixth forms.
Mrs McGloin said: “The current numbers are too small to produce courses that are viable educationally and economically at New Mills School; over the last few years, the majority of our students in Year 11 have chosen to go elsewhere for post-16 provision.
“In reaching the decision to consult on the future of the sixth form, governors want the best options and learning experiences for our students, and have therefore concluded that closure is the right option.” For those who currently attend the sixth form the school is committed to keeping the sixth form experience for current students exactly as it is, until the end of their studies.
Younger pupils now in Year 11 who want to continue on at the sixth form can do so as the phased closure will mean this is the last intake of pupils so the higher education courses will be open for another two years.
Mrs McGloin added: “Our aim is to become an outstanding 11-16 school, and to do so, we believe that we must concentrate our energies and expertise on that age range.”
A Derbyshire County Council spokesman said: “Governors at New Mills School are currently carrying out an informal consultation on their proposals to close the sixth form in response to budget pressures.
“Proposals to close sixth forms for schools like New Mills that are classed as community schools, are known as prescribed alterations. The power to bring forward and decide on a sixth form closure proposal is the responsibility of Derbyshire County Council according to guidance from the Department for Education.
“At the end of the consultation, the school’s governing body will consider the responses and decide whether to ask the county council to go ahead with the formal proposal. The county council’s cabinet will review the consultation responses and the views of the governing body before deciding whether to go ahead with the proposal. If the council decides to go ahead, it will carry out a formal consultation before deciding on the proposal.” This consultation will run until Monday, May 16 and there will be parent forums with the headteacher on Thursday, April 28 from 7–8pm and Tuesday, May 10, also from 7 – 8pm. Governor drop in sessions will take place on Thursday, May 5 between 3.30pm and 5pm.
To have your say visit www.newmillsschool.co.uk/school-information/news/latest-news.