Plans announced to close Axe Valley Academy sixth form

PUBLISHED: 08:21 28 September 2017 | UPDATED: 10:47 03 October 2017

Axe Valley Academy sixth form students with their A level results this year. Picture: CHRIS CARSON

Axe Valley Academy sixth form students with their A level results this year. Picture: CHRIS CARSON

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Trust blames lack of government cash for the decision to shut down the sixth form in 2019

Axminster Mayor Jeremy Walden was dismayed by the plans. Picture: CHRIS CARSONAxminster Mayor Jeremy Walden was dismayed by the plans. Picture: CHRIS CARSON

Plans have been announced to close the Axe Valley Academy’s sixth form because of funding difficulties.

In a statement the Board of Trustees of Vector Learning Trust, which runs the school, said it had initiated a public consultation regarding the proposed closure.

It continued: “Schools and Academies nationwide have come under increasing financial pressure from government underfunding in the last few years with a particular reduction in the amount received per sixth form student.

“Consequently, schools with small sixth forms have supplemented post-16 provision from budgets allocated to 11-16 year olds - a situation which is neither fair on the lower school nor sustainable in the long term, and subsequently many school sixth forms throughout the country have closed or are planning to close.”

Ann Adams, chairman of the Trustees of Vector Learning Trust said: “Despite the best ever sixth form results in August of this year, the finances at Axe Valley Academy have reached a critical point and tough decisions are having to be made.

“Re-designation of the Academy to an 11-16 provider would guarantee financial stability and allow us to direct staffing and resources to the lower school resulting in a more effective and efficient organisation which will ensure outstanding education for the young people in the Axe Valley communities.”

The proposed sixth form closure is for August 2019, to allow the current cohort of Year 12 students to complete their two-year courses. All further post-16 recruitment has been suspended pending the outcome of the consultation.

Martin Brook, CEO of the Trust said: “We are totally committed to providing our existing sixth form students with high quality teaching and resources to attain their required grades at A Level and thus secure their preferred places at leading universities.

“I have no doubt that this is absolutely the right decision for the young people and staff at Axe Valley Academy and by making it now we are securing the future of the Academy in the long term as well as the provision of outstanding schooling for students in Years 7-11.”

Further information regarding the proposed sixth form closure can be found in a full consultation paper posted on the Academy website www.axevalley.devon.sch.uk . Printed copies are available on request.

The consultation will run until Tuesday November 7, during which time comments can be sent to the Academy by e-mail admin@axevalley.devon.sch.uk or delivered to reception in Chard Street, Axminster.

A public consultation evening is being held at 6pm on Tuesday October 10 in the Main Hall at Axe Valley Academy to which all are welcome to attend.

Axminster Mayor Jeremy Walden, chairman of the Academy’s local governance committee, issued a statement today expressing his members’ dismay.

It said: “Given the financial constraints imposed on Sixth Forms, the decision by the Vector Learning Trust to propose redesignation of the AVA is the only decision that could be made. It is particularly distressing given the excellent A level results achieved by our students this year.

“With the Department for Education progressively reducing per student funding for Post 16 year education, only larger institutions are able to make their 6th Forms sustainable. This has meant that AVA and many other schools have had to divert funds from 11-16 year students to their Sixth Forms. This is neither fair on those young people lower down the school nor is it economically viable.

“The Governors will ensure that current Year 12 and Year 13 students receive only the best education the Academy can provide and this process will not adversely affect their final outcomes.

“Equally, current Year 11 students will get the very best independent advice on how they may continue their post 16 studies or training.

“For some staff, this must also be an unsettling time. They can rest assured that we will do all in our power to minimise any negative affects this transition may have. We value all of our staff, both teaching and support, and the future success of the AVA is dependant on them.

“The Governors would like to take this opportunity to express their continued support for the Vector Learning Trust, of which AVA is now a part, and to recognise the assistance given to it by the Trust and, before that, The Holyrood Academy, with whom it was in partnership. This has given us the increased capacity to secure the future outcomes of our students, both now, and in the long term. Without that partnership, and the subsequent academisation, we would be in a very different place, and future of the whole school would have been uncertain.

“The Vector Learning Trust has provided details of the consultation process, but should parents, carers or others wish to communicate with the Local Governance Committee directly, please email jeremywalden@btinternet.com, who is our chair.

“We remain committed to our long term objective of ensuring the Axe Valley Academy becomes the best 11-16 school in the area.”

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