Calderdale Council has confirmed the decision to close Todmorden High School Sixth Form in August 2018 and not to admit any new Sixth Form students from September 2017.
The Council lays responsibility for this decision at the door of central government cuts to schools funding. Sixth form education in the upper Calder valley has been clearly threatened by central government’s increased funding pressures on schools in general and sixth forms in particular. Most schools now receive less money than in previous years for A level students and for some vocational courses for 16-18 year olds.
But the Calderdale Council Report on post 16 provision found no evidence of any post-16 curriculum planning or strategy in the Upper Calder Valley. Surely it was Calderdale Council’s job to create one, since it has direct responsibility for the three remaining non-academy secondary schools in its area?
Instead Calderdale Council has keeled over and rubber stamped the decision to close Todmorden Hgh School Sixth Form.
Green Party says “No” to privatised schools
At the same time, Calderdale Council’s press release states that Trinity Academy has submitted a free school proposal to the Department for Education to set up a larger sixth form, which could offer a broader curriculum to up to 1200 students.
Is the possibility of a new so-called free school sixth form supposed to make it ok to close Todmorden High School Sixth Form?
The Green Party is committed to ending the ending the wasteful and failed academy programme, and taking all schools into local authority control – where they are accountable to the community and not large private organisations.
There is no evidence that becoming an academy boosts standards in our schools. In fact, some parts of the country where you find the lowest test results have had for years nearly every secondary school converted as an academy.
The forced privatisation of every school in England began in earnest when the government announced draft legislation in March to force all schools to become academies.
At a time when we desperately need stability in our schools, the modernisation of our national curriculum and greater accountability to parents and communities, all of this is set to be ditched in the quest of giving away all our schools to private businesses to run.
The Department for Education has racked up a bill of £2.5bn buying land to build “free” schools. Meanwhile existing schools face £3bn funding cuts.
This is the context for the closure of Todmorden High School Sixth Form College.
Calder High now nearest sixth form for Todmorden students
The nearest Sixth Form for Todmorden students is now Calder High, which also has student numbers below the 250 that the Calderdale Council Report on post 16 provision identified as the Minimum Viable Number.
Presumably the hope is that from this September, Tod Sixth Form students will go to Calder High and so boost its sixth form numbers to above the minumum viable number.
Dave Wardell, one of the Green Todmorden Town Councillors, said:
“It seems beyond comprehension that there will be no 6th form provision anywhere at this end of the Calder Valley. I think it will also have a detrimental impact on the chances of people in this area being able to get to university, having put such an obstacle to their opportunities for getting A-levels.”