Uncertain future of post 16 education in Calderdale

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Students and education courses face an uncertain future according to a new report from the director of Children’s and Young People’s services on post 16 provision in Calderdale.

Details have been released on how the borough needs to develop opportunities and schemes in a report that will go before Calderdale Council’s Children and Young People Scrutiny Panel.

The findings come on the back of the a report was commissioned jointly by Liz Cresswell, Chair of Calderdale Association of Secondary Heads (CASH) and Stuart Smith, Director of Children’s Services. Kevin Gilmartin from the Association of School & College Leaders (ASCL) following council concerns regarding standards, the financial situation and the ‘leakage’ of Post 16 students from Calderdale Post 16 provision.

Mr Smith said: “There is still on-going uncertainty about future Post 16 provision in Calderdale and future developments are dependent on a number of factors – the Trinity free school bid; Calderdale College academic provision; the future of Sowerby Bridge Sixth Form; the future of other small Sixth Forms; the ongoing development of the joint provision between Brighouse High School and The Brooksbank School and other collaborative partnerships.

“There are opportunities for more collaborative and cost effective teaching groups but this will rely on more providers committing to work together more than they have been to date.

“The possibility of establishing formal consortium arrangements between schools remains.

“There are opportunities to develop Careers provision and education in many schools, increasing the amount of workplace understanding and experience young people receive and developing their work related skills.

“In order to maintain the breadth of opportunities Post 16 in Calderdale, solutions need to be found to provide minority subjects and taking into consideration local market information, develop the range of subjects, academic and vocational/technical, on offer.”

Developments over the last 12 months have seen concerns grow over the state of availability of provision in Calderdale.

In 2016 Post 16 results showed a gender gap, with girls performing significantly better than boys. The results also show a gap between academic and vocational qualifications, with results higher in vocational areas.

Todmorden High School announced that governors had taken the decision to close the Sixth Form, with no new students being enrolled for September 2017.

The reports stated that most Todmorden High School students are likely to go west to Burnley or Rochdale Colleges, rather than travelling east to Calder High School or Halifax schools

Sowerby Bridge High School was judged by Ofsted as inadequate in October 2016 with current sixth form numbers being low (149).

The low numbers of students was a concern highlighted in the ASCL ‘Report on the 16-19 educational provision in Calderdale’ and ‘16-19 Educational provision in Calderdale - Questions and suggested actions’ documents published in February 2016.

Across Calderdale, in 2015-16, subjects offered in more than one school where the average class size was under ten: 13 of 47 academic subjects, five of 20 vocational subjects.

The report noted that a significant number of the students travelling out of Calderdale go to Kirklees, to two sixth form colleges in Huddersfield (in 2014, this amounted to 178 of the 208 students in total who travelled out of area.)