One of Doncaster’s biggest education trusts is proposing closing its school sixth forms and creating a new A-Levels supercollege in the town centre.
Delta Academies Trust hopes to concentrate its post 16 education at a site in a proposed Doncaster education quarter in the town centre.
No site has been announced for an education quarter, but it is possible such an area could be based around the current site of Doncaster College, at the Waterfront.
Delta currently has seven schools for children at secondary school level in and around Doncaster.
They are All Saints in Rossington, Don Valley in Scawsby, de Warenne in Conisbrough, Mexborough Academy, Mexborough, Serlby Park in Harworth, Ash Hill in Hatfield, and the St Wilfreds Academy attendance centre, in Bessacarr.
The plans have been submitted to Doncaster Council, which commissioned a post 16 review this year which concluded the borough needed to ‘rationalise and strengthen sixth form provision’.
Delta’s regional director of Post 16 education, Jamie McMahon, told the Free Press of the proposals during and interview at the organisation’s first ever trust-wide careers day, on Friday.
He said: “We’re proposing closing and centralising all our six forms, and starting a new sixth form college in the centre of town.
“At present, Doncaster has New College out in Auckley, and that attracts a lot of pupils from Lincolnshire and Bassetlaw as well as Doncaster. But for pupils at schools like Mexborough and Campsmount, that’s a long way to go.
“Doncaster needs another level three site – that’s where pupils take A-levels. This could be done by a consortium of Delta schools.”
He said the trust had spoken to parents and principals about the plans. Parents have been sent letters,
Mr McMahon said some parents were currently sending their children out of Doncaster to other boroughs because of accessibility issues.
He said the trust was looking at three possible sites but it would be down to the DFE to decide where in the town centre any sixth form college would be. It has not yet been decided if the college would be sited in an existing building or built from scratch.
Delta’s schools will continue to offer information about other sixth forms and sixth form colleges at its schools.
Delta has already set up the The Doncaster Collegiate Sixth Form, a central organisation which runs its existing sixth forms, and bosses feel the next natural step is to central the provision.
Mr McMahon feels the plans would mean youngsters would have the options of a town centre sixth form college, a town centre school sixth form at Hall Cross, a further education college at Doncaster College, or apprenticeships.
Doncaster’s education boss Damian Allen, Director of People, at Doncaster Council, said: “We are aware that Delta have submitted an application to open a 6th form college in the town centre. Our understanding is that this is being considered by the Department for Education.
“In May we published a Post 16 Review that makes recommendations for how the Post 16 landscape could better meet the needs of Doncaster’s young people. The review and its recommendations were developed in consultation with the Department for Education. That review should be the yard stick against which any proposals for changes to the Post 16 landscape should be assessed.”
Doncaster Council carried out a review of post 16 education earlier this year.
It stated: “There is an immediate need to rationalise and strengthen sixth form provision.
“The aim should be to secure and broaden A level provision while at the same time maintaining effective general vocational education in schools. What is needed is urgency. The pressures are already in the system and need a response by October half term in the 2018/19 school year, when recruitment for the 2019 intake of sixth forms will begin.
“Schools in Doncaster have responded to the challenges of diminishing numbers in post education in schools within the context of a reducing funding unit per student. However such responses have been institutionally led. Collaboration to date has been with fellow institutions within the same academy trust.
“The successful establishment of New College Doncaster in 2017 has seen a reduction in pupil numbers for several sixth forms in the borough. Such trends are likely to continue as the New College will expand its numbers.”
Doncaster currently has three secondary schools without a sixth form.