Audenshaw pupils told of plan to close Sixth Form minutes before GCSE exam
Tuesday 1st May 2018 12:42 Denton & Audenshaw Education News Tameside Posted by Tom Greggan

Audenshaw School has announced plans to close its Sixth Form, throwing the future of many students into doubt in the middle of exam season.

The school has launched a consultation over the decision, which will run until 28th May. It says that low intake, combined with changes to post-16 education, have resulted in the Sixth Form become financially unviable. The school has stressed that the consultation is just the start of the process, and that no decisions have yet been taken.

In a statement the Audenshaw Board of Governors said: “It is with great regret that the Board of Governors have decided to enter consultation on recruitment to the Sixth Form for September 2018.

“Our concern for our students remains paramount, and as part of our consultation we have already discussed alternative provision with each student who has been affected. Every single one will secure a suitable place for post-GCSE study elsewhere.

“There is never a good time to consider a measure like this, but we have been forced to consult on the issue now because of low admission numbers over a number of years and a decrease in funding levels.

“We were obliged to launch this consultation process ahead of the upcoming exam period because of the funding information we have received and the low number of students who have applied for a Sixth Form place for 2018.

“We are very much aware of the fact that we are the last remaining school with a Sixth Form in Tameside and this has always reflected our overall strength as a school. Whilst we are trying hard to maintain the Sixth Form, as with other schools in Tameside, across the North West and nationwide, we have found this very challenging in the current climate.

“We have tried marketing the Sixth Form both internally and externally, but it has proved difficult to compete with other much larger local providers who are able to offer a far broader range of qualifications and subjects. Inevitably this had a negative impact on our recruiting efforts.

“Our absolute focus continues to be on supporting and meeting the needs of all of our students.”

If the closure goes ahead, the Sixth Form will close when the current Year 12 students complete their studies in August 2019.

The Year 11 students who had chosen to continue their education at Audenshaw next year were informed of the potential closure during registration period on Monday morning, with a letter sent to parents later that day.

Some of the students had a GCSE exam just minutes after being told and the timing of the announcement has come under heavy criticism from parents for placing more strain on their children during an already stressful exam period.

One parent told the Tameside Reporter: “I am absolutely furious at the way they have told the lads. The school must have known about this for a while, so to drop it on the students as they’re doing their GCSE’s is a disgrace.

“They have been gearing themselves around staying at Audenshaw and aiming for the grades. Not all the local colleges do the subjects that are on offer at Audenshaw.”

The letter sent out to parents (see below) made no reference to the poor timing of the announcement. Parents of Year 11 students were told that staff will be supporting individual students to access provision at other local institutions if the decision is made to close. The letter also said that local colleges had been informed of the proposal, and are willing to accept applications for this September.

Another angry parent added: “I can understand that there are financial decisions to be made but the timing of the announcement is awful. The ones who want to stay at Audenshaw are among the brightest students who have been dedicated to the school.

“Why did the school not meet with parents rather than tell the boys? They knew they weren’t getting the numbers and this has stressed the boys out even more during a difficult period.”

Students who applied to Audenshaw Sixth Form from other schools are also heading into exam season with their futures up in the air. Audenshaw say that careers staff at the relevant schools have been notified.

Andrew Gwynne MP

Speaking about the proposed closure, Denton & Reddish MP, Andrew Gwynne, said: “I have received a considerable amount of complaints from worried and anxious parents.

“Funding across the further education sector has been savagely cut by the Tory Government, and – when even large colleges are struggling, and scrapping courses to keep afloat – they were warned of the impact this would have on the viability of small sixth forms. It’s very sad this is now happening to Audenshaw School.

“I will be taking the matter up with the Minister and with the Regional Schools Commissioner, but clearly the important thing is to ensure that, should the sixth form close, no child is left without a quality College place elsewhere and I hope the school can work to ensure that very quickly happens.”

After the consultation closes on May 28th, the school’s Board of Governors will meet to consider it’s findings and make a decision based on recommendations in a ‘Key Decision Report’.

 

The letter sent to parents of Audenshaw School and Sixth Form pupils informing them of the proposed closure.