ST MONICA’S Sixth Form has been blasted as a “vanity project” by parents furious their children were accepted when the school was so underfunded.
The sixth form received the formal approval to close from Bury Council’s cabinet last Wednesday following a consultation with parents during March.
Responding to a consultation on the sixth form’s closure, the parents of a Year 12 student on a two-year course said: “Our children’s education has been used in a political game of roulette.”
They felt the sixth form was wrong to take on students knowing the admission numbers were so low.
The sixth form had been undersubscribed since its opening in 2011 and in September, 2016, took on just 27 new students.
The lack of students meant the sixth form was unable to receive more funding from the Department for Education (DfE).
DfE funding is allocated according to intake numbers and the department’s own guidance suggests sixth forms with fewer than 200 students would struggle to deliver a broad and balanced curriculum.
The resulting lack of funding meant the sixth form was placing demands on the high school’s budget.
A meeting with governors was criticised as “shocking” and of one, she said: “He took no responsibility that the draw bridge on what appears to be a vanity project should have been pulled up much sooner and with such low numbers those children should not have been signposted to their other offers and advised to go there from September, 2016.”
The student was forced to alter his course as there was no corresponding course at a nearby college.
The student already a year into a OCR National is now working towards a BTEC qualification in order to continue his studies at Bury College.
Other parents accused governors of “completely letting down Years 12s” and another complained they were £300 out of pocket due after shelling out for a hairdressing kit their “daughter hasn’t been able to fully use” as she has not yet received the proper qualifications.
The complaints of parents in the consultation were highlighted at the cabinet meeting by Holyrood ward councillor Tim Pickstone.
The consultation received just 14 responses from the parents of 21 students, with nine supporting the decision to close.
Those supporting the decision said it was a “shame” but understood “it is simply not cost effective to continue”.
Another suggested the sixth form be converted “to improve the existing facilities” and give pupils at the high school more room for lunch.
No decision has yet been made on the fate of the building, but governors have suggested it could be used to enhance the high school.
However, if governors wished to increase the number of 11 to 16-year-old pupils a further consultation would have to be conducted,
The intention to close was announced by governors in February and the sixth form will shut in August.