PLANS by Watlington’s secondary school to open a sixth-form college are gaining momentum.
A public meeting last week heard that the governors of Icknield Community College want to extend the top end of its students’ age band from 16 to 18 and to offer A level courses.
It hopes to offer 20 courses including maths, English literature, art and sociology from September next year.
The Love Lane school says this would help students who currently have to travel to places such as The Henley College and save their families money on the cost of transport. A handful of people attended the meeting at the school, which followed two consultation meetings with parents.
It was attended by headteacher Mat Hunter, senior assistant head James Barringer and chairman of governors Rob Cockrem.
Mr Hunter said: “We have the capacity at the moment to teach in the first year the full range of A levels we want to offer. We want to appoint a head of sixth form who will bring certain subject specialisms with them.”
The vast majority of Icknield’s teachers already have experience of teaching A levels.
Mr Hunter said the sixth form could appeal to Russell Group Universities, which specialise in research, and added: “Of all of the subjects, it’s science where we know we need to invest in most heavily.”
He continued: “We’re saying there’s a gap in the market for a small academic sixth form like ourselves because it doesn’t exist in the area. Overwhelmingly our staff see this as a fantastic opportunity. Lots of them see it as a way they can develop as professionals.”
Peter Madry, whose two children, Ewan, 13, and Alice, 14, attend Icknield, said: “I think it’s a very good idea. You get to give the kids the option of staying here and carrying on their education.”
The school plans to sub-divide areas with glass partitions and have a separate social area for the sixth- formers with swipe card entry.
Mr Hunter said the classrooms would be more like seminar rooms. For the academic year beginning in September Icknield will have 615 pupils up to the age of 16 but within four years it hopes to have 785.
The meeting heard the school wanted 45 sixth form students in the first year but recognised that 30 would be a more realistic number.
It hopes to hold a sixth form open evening in November or December and to then plan the curriculum if the plans are backed by Oxfordshire County Council.
Public consultation ended on Monday and Mr Cockrem said a team including two accountants and three lawyers would review the feedback.