Students at troubled Burnley school given reassurance it will 'operate as normal' from September

Students at a troubled Burnley school have been given a reassurance that it will be operating as normal from September.

By Susan Plunkett
Friday, 2nd August 2019, 10:44 am
Students have been told it will be business as usual and classes will resume at Thomas Whitham Sixth Form next month despite fears about its future
Students have been told it will be business as usual and classes will resume at Thomas Whitham Sixth Form next month despite fears about its future

The statement, on the facebook page of Thomas Whitham Sixth Form Centre, also pointed out that no decision had been made regarding the future of the school.

The reassurance came hours after letters were sent out to students from the governors to inform them that the sixth form had approached Lancashire County Council for a consultation on the school as it had worries about its future due to 'concerns about financial viability.'

The facebook post also said: "We are fully staffed and will be operating as usual and have some exciting plans for the year ahead."

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It also stated that year 12 enrolment will take place on Wednesday, August 28th, from 8-30am until 4pm and year 13 students will return to their classes on Tuesday, September 3rd.

The first cabinet meeting where the issue can be discussed will not take place until September when a decision will be made on the next steps to take.

Speaking yesterday County Coun Phillippa Williamson who is cabinet member for children, young people and schools, said the school, supported by the county council, had made 'robust efforts' for several years to attract more students, including restructuring the leadership and staffing and developing a clear growth plan.

County Coun Williamson added: ""Despite the school's successive Good Ofsted Inspection ratings, low student numbers have continued, particularly since 2016/17.

"The reality is that schools with falling rolls have reducing budgets which can cause issues including reduced subject options and lower student attainment.

"Cabinet will need to consider this situation, including whether carrying out a consultation on the future viability of the sixth form is now timely.

"We are committed to providing the best possible educational experience for all of our young people.

"Because of this we want to ensure that all prospective sixth form students are aware of the current situation, and are able to make alternative provision, if required."

Thomas Whitham is the only institution in Burnley to offer A'level courses to students apart from Burnley College.

The sixth form opened in September 2006, as part of the first wave of a nationwide 10 to 15 year programme of capital investment funded by the Department for Education under the Building Schools for the Future programme.

For the first two years of its existence, under the temporary name of Burnley Schools' Sixth Form, it occupied the site of the former Barden High School, before moving into purpose built premises adjacent to the old site.