Council calls for ‘urgent rethink’ on closure of Sixth Form provision at Louth Academy

Education news
Education news

East Lindsey District Council has called for an urgent rethink on the announcement by the Tollbar Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) that there will be no Sixth Form provision at Louth Academy for the 2018-19 academic year.

Earlier this week, Martin Brown, Executive Principal at Louth Academy, said: “Unfortunately, the Trust has had to make a decision not to run Louth Academy Sixth Form from September 2018 owing to the very small number of applicants.

East Lindsey District Council headquarters.

East Lindsey District Council headquarters.

“The Trust does not feel that such a small number of students, possibly in single figures, would result in a good Sixth Form experience for the students, and it would not be financially viable.

“Tollbar MAT is still totally committed to opening a Sixth Form at Louth Academy in September 2019 and refurbishments are being completed this year at the Academy, including a Sixth Form facility. The two academies will also be united from September 2018, with the year groups coming together.

“The Year 11 students will then be able to see for themselves the resources that will be on offer to them Post-16 from September 2019.

“The Trust has made this decision early and notified the small number of applicants so that they have time to consider other Post-16 choices.

“We apologise for any inconvenience this causes students and for the disappointment of not being able to study A Levels at Louth Academy at this time.

“The Trust has offered to transfer any Louth applications to the Sixth Form at Tollbar Academy where currently there is a free bus service to the campus in New Waltham from Louth. Tollbar Academy’s Sixth Form has a wide range of courses and over 300 students currently on roll with outstanding facilities and a track record of successful outcomes.”

Today (Friday), in a letter to the Academy’s Chief Executive, ELDC’s Portfolio Holder for Market Towns and Rural Economy, Councillor Adam Grist, raised his concerns about the impact the decision would have on the education of young people in the District and the wider economy of the area.

Coun Grist’s letter reads: “I write to register my sincere regret and concern in response to the recent announcement that you are closing all Sixth Form provision at the Louth Academy from September 2018. The withdrawal of Sixth Form facilities will have a direct and negative impact on the life-chances of local children.

“I firmly believe that the decision to cease providing both vocational and academic qualifications through a six form at Louth Academy will close a local pathway into higher/further education and continuity of provision for local students; impact negatively on the flow of local students into employment opportunities, potentially leaving local businesses with skills deficits (particularly in vocational areas) and limiting the employment opportunities for local students; and impact on the provision of pastoral care to students at a critical time in their development.

“Although I acknowledge there is a move to centralise Sixth Form provision on specialist sites, I have grave concerns around the practicality and affordability of this for students in Louth and the surrounding area given the cost of transport and study time lost to travel.

“This will undoubtedly act as a deterrent to fully engage with 16+ learning and will therefore potentially adversely prevent children from realising their full potential.

“I would be interested to learn what transitional arrangements you will be implementing to support students that will no longer have access to locally provided vocational and academic courses? What support mechanisms have you put in place to support both pupils and parents through this decision?

The letter continues: “I would also urge you to work more effectively with local partners in advance of any future restructuring proposals, so that we are better placed to understand and communicate the potential impact on our communities.

“There seems to have been very little consultation in relation to these proposals. It is also regrettable that this decision has been made at precisely the time when Year 11 pupils are preparing for their GCSE examinations; this new uncertainty around their future schooling is hardly conducive to helping them prepare for such a critical few weeks in their educational life.

“At East Lindsey District Council, we continue to maintain our strategic commitment to supporting a vibrant local economy across our District that provides access to skilled employment opportunities.

“We have recently released an Economic Action Plan to help support local businesses and boost the local economy. It is disappointing that these efforts are potentially undermined by this retrograde decision.

“I sincerely hope that you reconsider your recent decision in order to ensure continuity of local provision and support the wider community which Louth Academy serves.”

• What are your thoughts on this issue? Email james.silcocks@jpress.co.uk