Future of under-threat Burnley sixth form to be decided in New Year

The future of an under-threat Burnley sixth form will be decided in the New Year.

Tuesday, 17th December 2019, 4:06 pm
Updated Tuesday, 17th December 2019, 4:07 pm
Thomas Whitham Sixth Form in Barden Lane

Uncertainty has surrounded the future of Thomas Whitham Sixth Form in Barden Lane for several months now, with just 30 new entrants last September casting dount over its long-term viability.

A petition prepared by parents and students gathered around 1,600 names but Lancashire County Council is now consulting on the sicth form's future and is expected to make a decision at Cabinet in January.

The sixth form had approached Lancashire County Council in July to say it was worried about its future due to 'concerns about financial viability.'

Parents have said they believe the closure of the sixth form will severely compromise options for post 16 students in the Burnley area.

They added that the sixth form means more to its students than just a good quality education, and cited smaller class sizes and a community atmosphere as integral to their success.

Mother Gemma Swift, whose daughter Shannon Cartwright is a Year 13 A-Level student at the sixth form, has been co-ordinating a campaign to keep it open.

Gemma said: "We now have 1,600 signatures on our petition to keep Thomas Whitham open. It's a good sixth form and the only issue with it is financial. However, it is so valuable to local students, particularly who would struggle to cope in larger colleges.

"There are a lot of autistic students who feel more comfortable at Thomas Whitham."

However, despite the school's successive Good Ofsted Inspection ratings, low student numbers have continued, particularly since 2016/17.