Monday, 20 September 2021

School axes sixth-form idea in case of too few students

PLANS to open a sixth form at Icknield Community College in Watlington in September have been

PLANS to open a sixth form at Icknield Community College in Watlington in September have been scrapped.

Headteacher Mat Hunter said the school couldn’t guarantee student numbers as many had applied to other institutions, such The Henley College, to study A-levels.

It had hoped to take 30 sixth-form students in its first year and to have about 120 in the long term.

Mr Hunter said: “We had quite a number of applications but when we consulted the students a number of them had made multiple applications.

“Having considered all the applications carefully, we felt there was just too much risk in terms of the students going to other institutions that we might not get the number we needed for September.

“Over the last year there have been changes to funding of schools which means budgets are tighter than when we first came up with the idea. If all the students who applied were definitely coming to the school it would have been a viable option.”

All the applicants except one are currently studying at Icknield, which caters for 11- to 16-year-olds.

Mr Hunter said: “There were some students who only applied for us and we have been working really closely with them to make sure they are getting into other sixth-form colleges. It was disappointing because they wanted to come to us.

“My job as headteacher is to make sure that the provision for 11- to 16-year-old students is as good as possible. If we had a smaller number of students than we wanted it could have had a negative impact on the funding and provision for our current students.

“The funding comes with the number of pupils. Your second year funding for the sixth form is based on your first year numbers.”

He added: “We don’t regret doing what we did â?? we got a lot out of the process. For example, all our staff have learnt about the new A-levels for September.”

Mr Hunter said the plans were now on hold but the governors would develop a three-to five-year strategy for the school. He said: “The sixth form is something we’re now considering for the future, with other things, but we not going to rush into anything. It’s a question of what’s right for the school.”

The Love Lane school had said the sixth form would help students who currently have to travel to places such as The Henley College and would save them money on transport costs.

It had planned to offer 20 A-level courses, including maths, English literature, art and sociology.

It wanted to sub-divide areas of the school with glass partitions and have a separate social area for the sixth-formers with swipe-card entry and seminar-type classrooms.

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