Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has approved an application to close Bournville School’s sixth form.
Proposed sixth form closure
Plans to close the Sixth Form were first consulted on in late 2015 as the school, run by Fairfax Multi-Academy Trust, faced a challenge to reduce debts of £750,000. With just 74 sixth form students at the time but places for up to 250, the school said that sixth form provision had become unsustainable.
Petition and support
On hearing of the proposals, pupils of the school, supported by families and the local community, started a petition which gained over 500 signatures. Alongside the petition, pupils decided to support the academy with over 100 year 11 pupils choosing to apply to study A levels at Bournville. 55 applications were also received from young people at other schools.
Short lived “victory”
Campaigning students claimed “victory” back in January when the school announced it was shelving the plans to close the sixth form due to the support it had received from pupils, families and the community.
“No longer financially viable”
However, as this academic year comes to a close, Head of Academy Nicola Gould says that not enough students have applied for September 2016, with only 30 saying they would definitely continue their studies there.
Mrs Gould said: “The figures mean the sixth form is therefore no longer viable financially.
“If the sixth form had continued, the class sizes would have been too small for effective learning and some students could have been denied the opportunity of studying their desired subjects.
“Therefore, we have had to make the very difficult decision to end our sixth form provision, which means that we will no longer recruit students to Year 12 from September 2016.”
Current Year 12 students will continue their Year 13 studies at Bournville in the 2016/17 academic year and will therefore be the final cohort of sixth form students at the academy.
“Loss and sorrow”
Mrs Gould added: “We understand that this news will come as a great disappointment to existing students, as well as those living within the community who hold this school close to their heart due to its proud history of strong and traditional values.
“As someone who has worked at this school for more than 20 years, I too share their sense of loss and sorrow. However, we put our students at the heart of every decision we make and their future success is the centre of our focus. We are a school with high expectations and one of our core values is to strive to provide our students with the quality education that each one of them deserves.”
Support for students as some prepare to study some subjects at other schools next year
Unfortunately, the school will not be able to teach physics, biology, chemistry, French or Spanish next year to those currently studying the subjects in Year 12. These subjects will be delivered at other local schools, through The Oaks Collegiate, a partnership of secondary schools in the area.
Mrs Gould said that students would be fully supported to complete their A Level studies. She said: “I want to reassure those pupils affected by this decision that we are fully committed to supporting them and to work with them to find the most appropriate place for them to continue their education. I would like to personally thank our parents and staff for their continued support.”
Andy Bird, CEO of Fairfax Multi-Academy Trust, said: “I would like to stress that this decision was not made lightly. It followed in-depth deliberation and it was a decision which was reached collectively by the school, the Trust’s Board of Directors, the Head of Academy and the school’s Academy Association.
“We are working closely with the Department for Education, as well as a number of schools with sixth forms and other further education providers in the area, to ensure our pupils secure the right outcomes for them.”