CLOSING all sixth forms throughout the whole of Ceredigion should be one of two main options considered as part of a feasibility study, councillors have recommended, but have dismissed the idea that the status quo can be allowed to continue despite parents in the council’s own review saying that “post-16 education should remain local within the schools.”
Last week, the Cambrian News revealed shock plans that could include closing all sixth forms in Ceredigion and replace them with just one site in a bid to save cash will be considered following a review which found sixth form provision in the county is too expensive and is “unsustainable.”
The recommendation followed a cabinet decision last year to begin a review of sixth form provision in the county.
A paper that went before the Learning Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 28 September outlined four options for the future of sixth forms in Ceredigion; maintaining the current situation, developing the current situation; provision in some schools, or one centre.
Committee members agreed to recommend to cabinet to undertake a feasibility study to consider the ‘develop the current situation’ and ‘one centre’ options in the review, while ‘provision in some schools’ should “also be considered if the information on the other options was not viable.”
The ‘maintain the current situation’ was not recommended.
The review – launched over growing concerns that Welsh Government grants don’t cover the outlay to provide sixth form courses – led to a survey which received 1,306 responses from pupils, parents and staff.
Responses from parents of primary children, a report put before committee members said, found that “the opinion of many was that post-16 education should remain local within the schools”.
Aberystwyth and Cardigan were named as locations for centres by parents of primary children if that option was taken up, while “others wished to combine the sixth forms in the schools in Aberystwyth” or “combine timetables and allow staff to travel between schools”.
The parents of pupils in Years 7 to 11 also said that “post-16 education should stay local within the schools”, including a number “noting the reopening of Henry Richard” in Tregaron.
“The importance of a sixth form within schools was noted and the need to travel across the county for college courses,” the report said.
Aberystwyth schools were “noted by a few as an opportunity to combine”, the report said, while others did argue for one centre in the county for all provision.
Year 7 and 8 pupils who responded to the review wanted to “stay in their school and don’t want to travel far”, the report found.
Cambrian News readers, responding on social media to our exclusive story last week said the option to centralise sixth forms on to one site would be “an absolute disaster for Ceredigion schools.”
Other readers labelled the plan “stupid” and “nonsense”, and one said it was “ridiculous” as school transport in the county was “already shambolic”.