A new sixth form unit to be based at Epworth’s South Axholme Academy is now a certainty, following a ministerial nod of approval.
The long-awaited go-ahead for the venture has been given by the Department of Education, allowing an offical opening of the facility in September, 2015.
From next year, up to 200 students will be able to follow A-level and other post-16 courses of study in the Isle. Previously students have had to travel to Scunthorpe, Gainsborough or Doncaster to continue their education.
Executive Principal Marie Lister said: “We are delighted to be able to confirm that approval has been given for South Axholme to open a Sixth Form in September 2015.
“This has been an ambition of ours for a long time and has been long requested by parents and students alike. We are very keen to meet the needs of the local community and for our students now to have the option of remaining at South Axholme for the final two years of their education is what has driven this project forward.”
She continued: “This change is a significant undertaking but we are confident that we can build upon existing good practice of staff ,and their detailed knowledge of the students, to ensure that provision in Years 12 and 13 is equally as good as that which currently exists in Years 7 to 11.”
MP Andrew Percy said: “I lobbied the Minister on this and worked closely with South Axholme Academy. Isle parents and students tell me they want to continue to study on the Isle, so this is great news.”
It has been a long, arduous process from the academy’s first consultation, that they were asked to repeat, and which yielded exactly the same results the second time, said Mrs Lister.
Despite the fact that 10 new modular classrooms are on site already, provided by North Lincolnshire Council, and that an admissions consultation began recently, staff and governors were “not at all sure” their plans would go ahead, until now, added the Head.
The next step will be the legal part of the process and establishing a ‘deed of variation’, she said, before another push to engage students and parents, involving them further in the plans.
It is expected that about 50 students will provide the first sixth form intake next year.
Everyone is very pleased at the news but it was a bit dampened because it was so long coming,” added Mrs Lister. “It’s a bit of a crystal ball as to what we do now. It’s a first time for us all. But the fact we have been placed under rigorous scrutiny gives us every confidence for the future.” A funding agreement will be drawn up by the Isle Education Trust to which the Academy belongs.