Burnley sixth form unveils academy plans

Thomas Whitham's Mr David Sheridan.
Thomas Whitham's Mr David Sheridan.

A Burnley sixth form could become an academy under plans being drawn up by the headteacher and governors.

Education bosses said they were excited about the scheme and stressed the proposals, for Thomas Whitham Sixth Form in Barden Lane, were aimed at keeping more control of the curriculum and funding at the sixth form and not about implementing changes at the institution.

If given the go-ahead to become an academy by the Government, Thomas Whitham will form part of the Pennine Federation, along with Burnley College, Themis, and the Burnley campus of the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), in a bid to strengthen the offering for Burnley school leavers, by early next year.

Acting headteacher at Thomas Whitham Mr David Sheridan said: “We are looking at the possibility of becoming an academy as part of the Pennine Federation. We are trying to make sure that we are doing this at a time when national initiatives are showing sixth form providers working together.

“We are trying to maintain our provision given that it’s not an easy time financially speaking. There are quite a lot of restrictions being placed on us and we are just looking for the best route through this. Becoming an academy would give us more control over our funding and curriculum although we are already fairly autonomous when it comes to curriculum.”

Academies are not governed by the local authority and receive funding directly from central government.

Mr Sheridan added: “We want to keep what we have and have greater control over it, we don’t want to change anything. Our exam results are excellent and we want to take that forward and improve on it if we can.”

Kathryn Molloy, chairman of governors at Thomas Whitham, said: “This is a very exciting time for Thomas Whitham Schools Sixth Form. We are confident that the decision to become an academy will have a positive impact for existing students and their families while opening up countless opportunities for future students who wish to progress to any university.”