Ed­u­ca­tion shake-up could see pupils driven be­tween sites

Glamorgan Gazette - - Your Views - LIZ BRAD­FIELD news­desk@waleson­line.co.uk

SIXTH-FORM stu­dents in Brid­gend could be driven be­tween dif­fer­ent sites dur­ing their lunch break un­der plans to shake-up post-16 ed­u­ca­tion in the area.

The pro­posal is part of plans to cut the num­ber of sixth forms in the county bor­ough to al­low for larger class sizes and a greater se­lec­tion of sub­jects.

How­ever coun­cil­lors raised con­cerns about the men­tal health and well­be­ing of stu­dents if their lunch breaks were taken away.

Brid­gend County Bor­ough Coun­cil is con­sult­ing on a range of op­tions for sixth forms and FE col­leges. Its pre­ferred op­tions in­volve a mix of school sixth forms with some merg­ers to cre­ate either new lo­cal author­ity main­tained sixth-form cen­tre(s) or new fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion col­lege gov­erned sixth-form cen­tre(s).

It is ex­pected that there will also be more on­line learn­ing along­side tra­di­tional class­room teach­ing.

At a re­cent coun­cil meet­ing on the plans, of­fi­cers said stu­dents would need to be trans­ported be­tween sites if sixth forms were merged.

John Fabes, BCBC spe­cial­ist of­fi­cer for post-16 ed­u­ca­tion, said: “We will try to keep jour­ney times to 20 min­utes.

“The idea is that you would move young­sters at lunchtime so it doesn’t dis­rupt the ac­tual teach­ing blocks within the day.”

But coun­cil­lors raised con­cerns about away stu­dents’ breaks.

Coun­cil­lor Ni­cole Bur­nett said: “Stu­dents’ lunch­breaks should be sacro­sanct - there’s al­ready enough pres­sure on pupils that eats into their so­cial time in school which is hugely im­por­tant for that age group.

“We need to be very care­ful that that’s taken very se­ri­ously - the well­be­ing and men­tal health of our chil­dren of that age needs to be a pri­or­ity.” tak­ing lunch-

And Coun­cil­lor Carolyn Web­ster added: “I’m con­cerned that per­mis­sion is al­most be­ing given to young girls to skip a meal by telling them they should be en route some­where else rather than sit­ting down eat­ing.

“That’s very preva­lent in so­ci­ety at the mo­ment.”

The plans to change the pro­vi­sion of post-16 ed­u­ca­tion in the county have been in the pipe­line for some time.

A pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion is due to take place on the pro­pos­als once they have gone be­fore Brid­gend County Bor­ough Coun­cil’s cabi­net in No­vem­ber.

At the scru­tiny com­mit­tee meet­ing on Tues­day, Oc­to­ber 16 coun­cil­lors warned of stu­dents be­com­ing “dis­en­gaged” if their own com­mu­ni­ties lost sixth forms.

Coun­cil­lor Keith Ed­wards ques­tioned whether the up­com­ing pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion was trans­par­ent enough.

He said: “The pre­ferred con­cepts are rather grey ar­eas and the con­sul­ta­tion doc­u­ment doesn’t iden­tify where sixth form ed­u­ca­tion will be main­tained and lost.

“The schools that lose their sixth forms will see par­ents up in arms.

“Will we be chal­lenged be­cause the process isn’t trans­par­ent enough, be­cause we are not say­ing which schools could be lost and which not - is the process flawed?”

Mr Fabes said the pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion was to “test the wa­ter” to see what peo­ple thought about the con­cepts.

He said: “In the con­sul­ta­tion pa­per there will be a lot of in­for­ma­tion about the im­pact of the dif­fer­ent con­cepts in terms of the sizes of sixth forms, the fi­nances and the stan­dards which is not present in this pa­per here.

“Were the pre­ferred con­cepts to be taken for­ward we would then have to look at ev­ery per­mu­ta­tion that might be con­sid­ered.

“If we ex­tract the Welsh and faith-based pro­vi­sion we would be left with seven English medium high schools.

“We would need to con­sider what per­mu­ta­tions there would be in terms of merg­ers, place­ments and cen­tres.

“We would have to put those into an op­tions pa­per and go out to pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion on the pre­cise merg­ers we are con­sid­er­ing.”

Cur­rently in the county there are sixth forms present in each se­condary school.

They vary in size from 61 stu­dents to 347.

The six con­cepts be­ing put for­ward for pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion are:

Con­cept 1 – The re­ten­tion of sixth forms in all schools - the cur­rent po­si­tion

Con­cept 2 – The clo­sure of all sixth forms and the de­vel­op­ment of a lo­cal author­ity main­tained sixth-form cen­tre(s)

Con­cept 3 – The clo­sure of all sixth forms and the de­vel­op­ment of a fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion (FE) col­lege gov­erned six­th­form cen­tre(s)

Con­cept 4 – A mix of school sixth forms with some merg­ers to cre­ate new lo­cal author­ity main­tained sixth-form cen­tre(s)

Con­cept 5 – A mix of school sixth forms with some merg­ers to cre­ate new FE col­lege gov­erned sixth-form cen­tre(s)

Con­cept 6 – A full ter­tiary model gov­erned by the FE sec­tor The coun­cil’s pre­ferred con­cepts are Con­cepts 4 and 5.

There are plans to cut the num­ber of sixth forms in the county bor­ough to al­low for larger class sizes and a greater se­lec­tion of sub­jects

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