Sixth form shake-up as panel makes post-16 recommendations

(Pic: Laleston Community Council)

 

Some, but not all, secondary schools in Bridgend will retain their sixth forms. That’s the headline recommendation of an expert panel which evaluated the future of post-16 education in the county, due to be discussed by BCBC’s cabinet next week (pdf).

The report is the final piece of a four-part strategic review into the school curriculum and school estate.

Sixth forms in Bridgend vary in size between 76 and 344 students. Bridgend College and Pencoed Comprehensive have established Penybont Sixth Form College, while Bridgend College also offers night-time AS/A-Level courses in law, psychology and film studies – taken up by around 100 pupils.

27 pupils take part in “Option X & Y” schemes where they attend courses delivered by different schools because they’re not available at their “home” school.

Some of the negative aspects of sixth forms are said to include a lack of breadth in the curriculum, surplus places, the cost of transport with regard collaborative programmes like “Option X & Y” and the possible future withdrawal of free home-school transport for sixth formers.

Several options were considered by the panel, summarised as:

  • Retaining sixth forms as they are.
  • Merging sixth forms into a single Sixth Form College – either run independently or co-run by all participating schools – and/or creating multiple regional centres based at existing schools.
  • Have all further education courses delivered by Bridgend College (similarly to Neath Port Talbot).

The panel undertook an assessment, scoring each concept on how it meets BCBC’s objectives.

Two concepts came out on top and were recommended for further consideration. Both would have some schools retain their sixth forms, while other schools would merge theirs into a single sixth form centre all under a unified timetable. The only difference between the two concepts is governance arrangements.

There was a need to develop specific proposals for post-16 Welsh-medium education, special needs and faith-based education. The panel will also expect more collaboration between schools to create the common timetable, greater support for e-learning and the possibility of sixth forms sharing staff.

Further work will be undertaken on the recommended options with another, more detailed, report expected in Spring 2018.

Owen