Have your say on post-16 education
Posted on: Tuesday 11 December 2018
A major consultation over the future of post-16 education in Bridgend County Borough is underway.
Bridgend County Borough Council is reviewing whether the current provision should be altered to ensure that young learners have the best possible opportunities to excel, and is inviting the public to have their say.
There are currently sixth forms in every secondary school in Bridgend County Borough, varying in size from 76 to 347 pupils.
Around 40 pupils also attend the sixth form provision at each of the county borough’s two special schools, while Bridgend College provides a range of vocational pathways for approximately 2,000 learners aged 16 to 18.
In the new public consultation, which is open until 1 March 2019, parents, pupils, teachers and other interested parties will be asked to say whether they would prefer to retain and improve the current sixth form system, or choose an alternative.
The options include: closing all school sixth forms and instead developing a state-of-the-art sixth form centre which could either be governed by the local authority or a further education college; having a mixture of school sixth forms with some mergers to create a new sixth form centre run by either the local authority or a further education college; or having a full tertiary model governed by the further education sector.
Separate arrangements are being proposed for Welsh-medium and faith education. It is suggested that the collaboration between Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Llangynwyd with Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Llanhari in Rhodda Cynon Taf should continue to develop, with Archbishop McGrath Catholic School continuing to form close relationships with other sixth forms and Bridgend College.
A full review of post 16 provision for young people with additional learning needs is also being carried out.
It has become clear that one size certainly does not fit all so we must be flexible and do everything in our power to create the best possible system that develops a skilled and well-educated workforce. Funding for sixth form provision in Bridgend County Borough is provided by Welsh Government as a single post-16 grant allocation each year. Unfortunately, due to national austerity, this funding pot is gradually dwindling. Given the financial pressures faced by the local authority, secondary schools and Bridgend College, it’s imperative to use our limited resources as boldly, efficiently and creatively as possible.
There are certainly many positives to the current sixth form set-up. For example, the link between sixth form students and the rest of a school provides role models that support younger learners. But there are also some negatives including the fact that students aren’t always able to choose the subjects they want to pursue, while in some schools there are sometimes only a few pupils taking particular subjects. Unfortunately, delivering subjects in particularly small groups is not always conducive to high standards and a dynamic environment.
The pros and cons of taking alternative approaches also need to be weighed up. For example, there are potential economies of scale, minority subjects could become more viable, and class sizes may become more efficient. I would recommend everyone with an interest in education takes the time to give their views on the situation by completing the survey.Councillor Charles Smith, Cabinet Member for Education and Regeneration
As well as a bilingual online survey, paper copies are also available and interactive workshops will be held in each of the county borough’s secondary schools during January and February 2019.
A report on the outcomes of the consultation will be provided to Cabinet Members in April 2019, and further public consultation would then be held before any final decision is taken.