Council to confront an age old problem...

Halifax High School. Wellesley Park, Halifax, which had plans for a sixth form dashed in 1997.
Halifax High School. Wellesley Park, Halifax, which had plans for a sixth form dashed in 1997.

ABOUT 1,000 Calderdale students travel to Kirklees each day to pursue A-levels because some local sixth forms are not good enough, councillors were told.

That coupled with a shrinking number of pupils has prompted Calderdale Council to carry out a major review which it is hoped will give youngers a better chance in life.

“We must be honest about sixth form education in Calderdale,” said Coun Barry Collins. “Some small sixth forms simply don’t work or underperform and the tragedy is that it is something we have known about for the past 25 years.”

Councillor Collins (Lab, Illingworth and Mixenden) told the cabinet that a previous reorganisation scheme had been rejected and ever since then Calderdale students had been paying the price.

The cabinet was told that Halifax High at Wellesley Park and the Park Lane Learning Trust, at Exley, Halifax, were lobbying hard to set up six forms and if they were successful it would exacerbate the problem of falling roles and smaller sixth forms.

A working party to investigate the problem is to be established inolving councillors, headteachers, Calderdale College and the Connexions Service. Any recommendation will be subject to public consultation.

Sue McMahon of the National Union of Teachers asked whether the new Free School in Halifax for 16 - 19-year-olds would cause further problems next year. But children’s services spokeswoman Coun Megan Swift (Lab, Town) said she didn’t think its 175 places would have a significant impact.

Traditional school structures and funding arrangements tend to push secondary schools in the direction of maintaining a sixth form or setting one up if they do not currently have one.

The Academy system has put some six secondary schools totally in charge of their own fate and able to opt out any reorganisation.

Calderdale schools have relatively small sixth forms and are subsidised by £1.5 million on top of the basic allocation per student received by colleges.