Sixth form college bid turned down... again

Principal Michael Gosling welcomes staff and students at the opening of the newly built Trinity Academy in Holmfield, Halifax.

Principal Michael Gosling welcomes staff and students at the opening of the newly built Trinity Academy in Holmfield, Halifax.

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The bid to open a 1,000-place sixth form college in Halifax town centre has been rejected for a second time by the Government.

The application was put together by Michael Gosling, the headteacher of Trinity Academy, in partnership with Rochdale College, to open the college by September 2017 with a focus on academic subjects.

The college - which would have been called Calderdale 6th - was put forward as a way to stop the ‘brain drain’ of students leaving Calderdale to study, with a quarter of sixth formers in the borough currently travelling outside of Calderdale to study.

The first application made under the free-school programme was rejected this past February and did not receive the backing of Calderdale Council and was met by resistance by some local heads.

Mr Gosling said:: “We are, of course, extremely disappointed that the bid has not progressed.

“Feedback indicates that it was strong and enjoyed support from both young people and their parents,” he said.

“However, the process is, quite rightly, a rigorous one. Submitting a proposal for dedicated post-16 provision, which looked to significantly improve the local offer rather than address a shortage of places, is recognised as particularly fierce given the government’s current focus on investment where there is a lack of provision.

“We will continue to look at potential solutions to the issue of so many young people travelling out of the area to access the quality education that they need and deserve.”

News of the rejected bid was welcome by the National Union of Teachers (NUT).

Sue McMahon, Calderdale NUT divisional secretary, said: “What Calderdale needs is money invested in the infrastructure of our school buildings. Our sixth forms, in both academies and maintained schools, provide a good education.

“Opening a free school in Calderdale, would have been to the detriment of our schools,” she said.

Coun Tim Swift (Lab, Town), leader of Calderdale Council, said: “We did have concerns about it being a free school - though they do have their issues - that wasn’t our main concern with this bid.

“It was the lack of cooperation with other schools and the question as to whether an academic sixth form is the right solution for Calderdale.”

Mr Gosling said there are no plans at the moment to resubmit an application for Calderdale 6th.