Star Sixth Forms Object to Merger into Learning Centres; We Are Providing a Quality of Education That Is Second to None, Head Claims
Byline: Tony Trainor
OPPOSITION to proposals to scrap the traditional sixth form in schools across Wales is mounting.
Some of the best-performing sixth forms are in line to be replaced by new tertiary learning centres.
In Merthyr Tydfil a review of secondary education is well advanced and a favoured option of the local authority is to merge the sixth forms of its five secondary schools into a new learning centre.
Education officials point to findings by the district auditor that highlighted a proliferation of small and inefficient sixth-form classes, a lack of interaction between students and a lack of subject choice. In neighbouring Blaenau Gwent there is the possibility of a new learning campus accommodating sixth-formers on the former Corus steelworks site at Ebbw Vale.
Similar merger proposals in the county borough of Caerphilly are the subject of consultation between school governors, teachers, parents and pupils.
The move towards an integration of upper secondary schools in deprived areas comes as some sixth forms are boasting the most impressive individual performances of modern times.
The Western Mail recently reported claims by the head teacher of Cyfarthfa High School in Merthyr that Cyfarthfa's latest inspection report was the best received by any school in Wales since the modern inspection system began.
No pupil in the past two years had failed to pass their chosen A-levels with grades A or E.
School head Alan Pritchard is strongly opposed to any move to abolish his sixth form.
``We are providing a quality of education for our sixthformers that is second to none,'' he said. ``If we lose the sixth form it means pupils would achieve lower standards.
``Will parents in years to come thank the council for making a decision that causes a lowering of standards?''
One couple who say they would never forgive their local authority are Michael and Lynda Jones, of Blackwood, Caerphilly, whose 15-year-old daughter Helen is studying for her GCSEs.
Helen hopes to become an English teacher or combine her studies with law at A-level, but her prospective sixth form at Lewis Girls' School in Ystrad Mynach is already under threat despite being among the highest-achieving in Wales.
The Joneses, of Woodfieldside in Blackwood, are already campaigning to save the Lewis Girls' sixth form from reor-ganisation. Mr Jones, who is a member of a parents' action group that plans to lobby Caerphilly County Borough Council about the issue, said 97% of parents and 95% of pupils at his daughter's school were opposed to the replacement of the sixth form ``in favour of a lower-achieving sixth-form college''. …