Poor funding forces school to close sixth form

According to The Star, a poorly-funded Sheffield is planning to lose its sixth form to cut costs

A Sheffield school has outlined plans to close its sixth form due to lack of funding and demand.

The ‘drastic and regrettable’ action requires government approval; if successful, those passing their GCSEs will be forced to attend other sixth form schools, and those currently in year 12 will continue with year 13 at Bradfield School.

According to local governors, Bradfield School is among the 50 worst-funded schools in the country. While it is expected to receive a £600,000 per year boost with the introduction of the National Funding Formula, the implementation for this has been pushed back.

‘We know that, this year, operating the sixth form is costing us £292,00 more than we receive in funding, or £1,600 per sixth form student’, a public consultation document says. ‘Schools cannot lawfully go into debt, and the only way that we stayed afloat last year was through a large loan from the Education & Skills Funding Agency’.

‘We will require a further, even larger, loan this year. Understandably, ESFA is only likely to release that loan if the governing body can present a credible plan to balance the budget.’

“If we were to keep the sixth form and found other ways to balance the books, we would be doing so by taking out funding that was intended for students’ education pre-16,” governors say. “We don’t believe that would be fair or proper. Other options for trying to reduce the cost of the sixth form, such as reducing the range of subjects offered would reduce the attractiveness of Bradfield School’s sixth form to prospective students.

“Ultimately, we feel we would arrive at exactly the same point, but having spent more money delaying the inevitable.”

They add: “This is a drastic and regrettable proposition, but one that we believe is necessary to preserve the future viability of the school.”

“Our longer-term future to provide the best possible education for current and future students lies in joining a multi-academy trust. We will not be able to join any MAT until we have stabilised our budget and have an agreement with ESFA on how our accumulated deficit will be managed.”

The school said in a statement: “The possible closure of the sixth form is something we are having to consider with a very heavy heart as a result of our funding situation.

“We understand the distress this may have caused Year 11 students and their families and are working hard to try and find a solution for all our children as they move into Year 12.

“This is not something we are considering lightly. Staff at this school should be praised for putting a great deal of work into creating our A-level courses and preparing our students for university over recent years.”

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