Coun­cil to con­sider fu­ture of sixth forms

Glamorgan Gazette - - News - LIZ BRAD­FIELD liz.brad­[email protected]­plc.com

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

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