Consultation on Trust’s decision over Sixth Form

Education news
Education news

Tollbar Multi Academy Trust is consulting on a proposal to change the age range of Louth Academy from 11-18 to 11-16, following their about-turn on establishing a Sixth Form.

The Trust opened the new Louth Academy in September 2017, merging the two sites (previously Cordeaux and Monks’ Dyke Tennyson College) in September 2018.

The initial aim was to have an academic Sixth Form to deliver A-Level courses, but the number of applications has been ‘very limited’, according to the Trust - which added that, since opening the new academy, no Sixth Form students have been admitted.

The Trust said their main reasons for deciding not to open a Sixth Form include:

• Too few applicants of a high academic ability to provide the breadth of A-Level courses students require.

• Too few applicants for a financially viable Sixth Form.

• There are large, high-quality competitors who can provide an extensive selection of academic courses, - including Grimsby Institute and Franklin College - which both offer free or subsidised transport to potential students in the Louth area.

• Analysis of the Louth area by Grimsby Institute in July 2017 concluded that it was not financially viable to provide vocational courses at Louth Academy.

• There are currently no enrolled students in Year 12-13.

• The Department for Education recognises that Sixth Forms with fewer than 250 students cannot afford to offer a full range of courses.

David Hampson, Chief Executive of Tollbar Multi Academy Trust, said: “This decision has been made because there are too few academic applicants to provide an Academic Sixth Form experience with the breadth of A Level courses that students require and for the Sixth Form to be financially viable.

“In the admissions round for entry to the Sixth Form in September 2018, the Academy only received 35 applications, many of which would not have met the academic entry requirements. As a result, no students started their post-16 studies at the Academy in 2018.

“Prior to the merger, there was a history of extremely low numbers of academic and vocational students in the Sixth Forms at both schools.

“The number of students who completed their academic or vocational post-16 courses, who started their courses with the predecessor institutions, was 10 students at Monks’ Dyke Tennyson College and six students at Cordeaux Academy, which was a mix of both vocational and academic students.

“Cohorts of students with such low numbers are not financially viable and do not provide a good educational experience for post-16 students, and would mean that the main school would need to subsidise the operation of the Sixth Form, which would have a detrimental impact on Key Stage 3 and 4 students.

“The Academy needs to consider the consequences on the whole institution when Sixth Form applications are so small. If the age range is altered to 11-16, it will enable the Academy to ensure that funding is used to benefit the education of our current students in Key Stage 3 and 4.”

The consultation period, began on Friday, will close at midnight on May 10.

Interested parties are invited attend a consultation event at the Academy on April 23 (3-7pm) or April 24 (3-7pm)

To help the Trust arrange these sessions, register and book a time slot by emailing consultation@tollbarmat.org or call 01472 310335.

You can also email your views via address above, or via post: Louth Academy Consultation, Tollbar Multi Academy Trust, Station Road, New Waltham, Grimsby DN36 4RZ

All views put forward during the consultation stage will be reported to the Regional Schools Commissioner, as will the views of the Trust.

The Commissioner will then decide whether to progress to the next stage in the process.

Louth town and district councillor, Jill Makinson-Sanders, raised her concerns about the decision at a town council meeting last month.

Following this week’s news, she said: “This does not address the issue of the future of the Wolds College, and the investment made to provide local skills training.

“Also, I am staggered that this consultation is going on during purdah, I am sure a cynic would have something to say on the timing!

“Effectively, it is a gag on elected members supporting our youth.”

• What are your views on this story? Email louthleader@jpimedia.co.uk.