(Pic: Laleston Community Council)
As you might remember, Bridgend Council is currently undertaking a review of post-16 education, having put forward six different options. Following another round of consultation, the Cabinet is to be updated later today (pdf).
What did the consultation find?
Around 3,000 people took part in some way, shape or form – including more than 2,000 students.
There was broad agreement that something had to change and also agreement that the range of subjects offered at A-Level or equivalent should be as wide-ranging as possible.
The “twilight” courses – where one school offers a particular subject after normal school hours to which students from other schools travel to – were seen in a positive light and not as being particularly disruptive; though many learners would prefer these lessons to take place during the day.
Transport was a recurring concern amongst everyone, particularly as BCBC are actively considering (on-off) withdrawing funding for post-16 home-school bus travel. Cuts to commercial bus services were also viewed negatively and used as arguments against centralisation/cuts to existing sixth-forms.
The strongest preference was for current sixth-forms to be maintained, though there was some support for BCBC’s preferred options (explained later). There was also disagreement over the minimum number of students needed for a viable sixth-form, with 39% agreeing and 49% disagreeing with BCBC’s desired sixth-form size of 250+ students.
BCBC remain convinced it’ll be difficult to meet its aspirations for post-16 education across nine separate (state school) sixth-forms. Just over £5.75million will be spent on sixth-form education in Bridgend county during 2019-20 – a cut around £750,000 compared to 2018-19.
What are the shortlisted recommendations?
Based on the consultation responses, three of the six proposed models will go forward for detailed study:
- Option 1 – Retaining current sixth forms.
- Option 4 – One of BCBC’s prefered options; retain some stand-alone sixth forms while merging the others into a sixth form centre run by BCBC.
- Option 5 – Another of BCBC’s prefered options; retain some stand-alone sixth forms while merging the others into a sixth form centre run by Bridgend College.