County council to consult on the future of Thomas Whitham Sixth Form

County Hall in Preston
County Hall in Preston

Lancashire County Council's Cabinet agreed today to consult on the future of Thomas Whitham Sixth Form in Burnley.

As revealed in the Burnley Express last month, the future of the sixth form in Barden Lane is shrouded in uncertainty due to falling student numbers.

This situation led the sixth form to contact the county council in July to consult on its viability, causing panic among parents and students.

That has now led to shocked parents setting up a petition in a bid to save the sixth form from closure.

The county council's consultation will begin later this month and all interested parties are encouraged to take part.

A consultation event, which will be attended by education officers from the county council, will also be held to give parents, staff and other interested parties the chance to ask questions and express any views they may have.

A consultation document containing a questionnaire, full details of the proposal, and how to book an appointment at the consultation event will be available on September 16th at: www.lancashire.gov.uk/schoolorganisationreviews

County Coun. Phillippa Williamson, cabinet member for children, young people and schools, said: "A number of circumstances have combined to make this consultation necessary.

"The governing body of Thomas Whitham Sixth Form approached the county council recently to tell us that they were worried about their future due to concerns about its financial viability, and the low number of students attending the school. They asked the authority to consult on the viability of the sixth form.

"The reality is that the school, supported by the county council, has made robust efforts for several years to attract more students, including restructuring the leadership and staffing and developing a clear growth plan. Despite the school's successive Good Ofsted Inspection ratings, low student numbers have continued, particularly since 2016/17. The problem is that schools with falling rolls have reducing budgets which can cause issues including reduced subject options and lower student attainment.

"We share the concern of the school governing body about this, and agree that it is now time for us to consider the long-term future of the school.

"The consultation will be open to everyone and I really hope that people will take the opportunity to tell us what they think and identify some potential future options. Our paramount concern is always to provide the best education we can for all young people.

"I'd like to reassure parents and students that all of the feedback will be considered before any decisions are made."