The decision by Todmorden school governors that they cannot continue to provide a sixth form is a direct result of government policy.
Todmorden is a good school which is valued and supported by local parents – and the council has been giving all the support we are able to over the past few months.
This has happened because the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition Government changed the way that national funding is provided for sixth forms. They were warned from 2013 onwards that this would threaten the survival of smaller sixth forms – and this prophecy has now sadly come true in the case of Todmorden.
Last year, Calderdale Council worked with the heads of secondary schools to commission an independent report into sixth form provision across the Borough.
This report warned that many small sixth forms were not viable, and that the future would have to involve closures and mergers if we were able to ensure that Calderdale young people have access to high quality sixth form provision.
There has also been a West Yorkshire-wide review of post-16 education, because of concerns that Further Education college budgets are also under theat.
So we are surprised that local MP Craig Whittaker is calling for a review when in fact they have already taken place at both Calderdale and West Yorkshire level.
The level of funding provided to any school now is largely determined by national Government.
As Calderdale councillors, we continue to work to support schools, but we cannot control the financial climate within which they operate. That is something that we need our MPs to challenge.
Labour’s commitment to supporting schools in Todmorden is clear. We have prioritised rebuilding Ferney Lee Primary School and building a new classroom block at Todmorden High School.
Before he was elected in 2010, Craig Whittaker regularly promised that he would secure a complete rebuild of both Calder High and Todmorden High Schools. Despite his high profile antics when he stood on the roof of Todmorden, he has completely failed to deliver on these promises and it would be good to hear what action he is going to take on this.
Coun Megan Swift and Coun Susan Press