Spalding Academy to launch A-levels while Post 16 Centre could face the axe

The Post 16 Centre: is it mothballed or closed? SG010216-124TW
The Post 16 Centre: is it mothballed or closed? SG010216-124TW
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Spalding Academy students will get their first chance to sit A-Levels in-house while the future of the £3million Post 16 Centre is in doubt.

Laurence Reilly, executive head teacher of the South Lincolnshire Academies Trust (SLAT), which runs Spalding and Bourne Academies, says the trust has been in ongoing discussions with the Department for Education (DfE) “regarding the best use of the sixth form centre”.

South Holland Post 16 Centre has closed amid uncertainty over whether it is being mothballed or earmarked for sale.

Its site is owned by the DfE.

Post 16 Centre BTEC students achieved excellent results last August, with two-thirds gaining Distinction* or Distinction, equal to three A* or A grades at A-Level, but there was no new intake in September.

SLAT say Spalding Academy students moving up to sixth form this September will have free bus travel to Bourne Academy to study A-Levels or BTEC.

It also says “several options” will be available the following year for sixth form students to study “at Spalding” without specifying which building they might use.

John Hayes, who was South Holland and the Deepings MP until Parliament was dissolved for the General Election, wants Spalding students to have wide-ranging, 6th form educational opportunities.

He said: “There is an absolute requirement for a technical and vocational offer in Spalding.

“If re-elected, I would want urgent discussions with the trust about their plans and I would have simultaneous discussions with the DfE.”

Mr Hayes wants to ask questions about subjects and courses offered, and what is proposed for the Post 16 centre site.

Previously, Spalding Academy students had to switch to the town’s grammar or high schools to study A-Levels or go to colleges in neighbouring towns.

Mr Reilly issued a statement on Friday, saying: “After due consideration, it has been decided to retain sixth form provision at Spalding Academy.

“The previous post 16 model was to offer triple vocational courses, so that students were studying just one subject over two years.

“As a trust, we do not provide this sixth form offer and instead encourage sixth formers to choose a balance of three or four different subjects at A-Level or the equivalent BTEC Level 3. This keeps students’ options open and gives them every prospect of achieving a university place, a Modern Apprenticeship or employment with further training.

“There have been a large number of changes in staffing since September at Spalding Academy and we now have a teaching force with the knowledge and experience to deliver sixth form courses in their subject area.

“Whilst we have restricted the offer for 2017-18 to our Bourne site, with free transport from Spalding Academy, this will change to a mixed offer in 2018-19, with several options available at Spalding.

“The extent of this offer will depend on the demand for places and particular subjects (which we will know more about in November 2017 following our Spalding Academy sixth form open evening); certain combinations of subjects will be available at Spalding from September 2018.

“The South Holland sixth form centre was built in 2008/9 to deliver vocational courses of the type that were offered by the Sir John Gleed School.

“This was in line with DfE policy prior to the General Election 2010.

“The 2010 Coalition government’s education policy was to scrap the Vocational Diplomas introduced by the previous Labour Government and so most schools changed to the type of sixth form offer available at Bourne Academy.

“The Trust has been in ongoing discussions with the DfE regarding the best use of the sixth form centre moving forward. The impending General Election has caused a slight delay in this process, but we will continue our discussions with the DfE after June 9.”

CfBT, the trust that formerly ran the Post 16 Centre and the linked Sir John Gleed School, was last year accused of failing to market the 6th form offering and of running it down by placing a questiomnark over its future.

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