Council to consider future of sixth forms
A PUBLIC consultation on widespread changes to post-16 education in Bridgend county has begun.
The consultation asks for opinions on plans to cut the number of sixth forms in the county borough to allow for larger class sizes and a greater selection of subjects.
It asks people what they think about a number of areas.
These include whether it is reasonable to expect A-level students to travel to specialist centres for their education as those taking vocational courses travel to Bridgend College’s two campuses at Pencoed and in Cowbridge Road.
It also asks whether plans to transport students between centres during their lunch breaks are acceptable “within the context of learner wellbeing” and asks for views about blended learning, a method of online learning which involves completing studies online.
Bridgend County Borough Council says the changes are based on a raft of reasons including tougher financial circumstances, smaller cohorts of 16 to 18-year-olds, reductions in Welsh Government funding and a slowdown in the rate of improvement in examination performance.
There are currently sixth forms in each secondary school across the county varying in size from about 60 to 350 students.
In total there are around 1,500 students taking Alevels with around 1,900 students, aged 16-18, at Bridgend College taking a range of vocational pathways.
The number of timetabled subjects available in individual sixth forms varies from 12 in the smallest sixth form to 25 in the largest.
A review carried out in October 2017 identified 150 classes across Years 12 and 13 with fewer than 10 students.
Over the last few years a number of subjects ranging from Government and Politics to Home Economics have been lost from the post-16 curriculum daytime offer.
Low numbers or limited staff expertise are the basis for 20 subjects being offered through collaboration among the schools.
These include Computing, Drama, Economics, Engineering, languages and Further Maths.
The six concepts being put forward for public consultation are:
Concept One – The retention of sixth forms in all schools – the current position.
Concept Two – The closure of all sixth forms and the development of a local authority maintained sixth-form centre(s).
Officers say creating the new centre(s) would require a significant capital investment which might prove problematic for the council in times of austerity.
The governance, accountability and control of funding would remain with the council.
Concept Three – The closure of all sixth forms and the development of a further education (FE) college governed sixthform centre or centres.
The governance, accountability and control of post-16 funding would pass to the FE college.
Concept Four – A mix of school sixth forms with some mergers to create new local authority maintained sixth-form centre(s).
Concept Five – A mix of school sixth forms with some mergers to create new FE college governed sixth-form centre(s).
Concept Six – A full tertiary model governed by the FE sector.
This concept would see the closure of all sixth forms and require the development of a new large campus within the FE sector capable of providing for around 1,600 students from the school sixth-form sector which would require significant capital investment in facilities.
The council’s preferred concepts are Concepts Four and Five.
This would enable some school-based sixth forms to remain open while merging others into sixth form centres either under council control or FE control.
The public consultation ends on February 22.
There are currently sixth forms in each secondary school across the county varying in size from about 60 to 350 students
A consultation is asking for opinions on plans to cut the number of sixth forms in the county