SWCHS weighs into Local Plan 6th Form debate

The unresolved secondary educational issues resulting from the draft Uttlesford Local Plan roll on. In November the UDC Cabinet proposed shutting down the highly successful and popular 6th Form at Saffron Walden County High School and building a new 6th Form college. This created uproar with parents and has clearly upset the headmaster, governors and teachers. So much so that the headmaster and chair of governors have now issued a public letter reminding people that they are a self-determining academy and roundly rejecting UDC’s scheme.

UDC has now retracted their plan to shut down the 6th Form, but also committed to no catchment area changes. This is a difficult trick to pull off given the 100s of new secondary age children moving into new homes in the town and the fact that the school won’t grow; the SWCHS head stated there would be no school roll increase at a recent governors meeting. We believe catchment area changes are inevitable and the SWCHS will no longer be in catchment for children from the villages and rural areas.

The SWCHS letter can be downloaded from the school site, but is also reproduced below:

To all Parents

Dear Parents

Re; SWCHS and the potential housing developments in Saffron Walden.

There has been speculation in the local press regarding the establishment of a sixth form college in Saffron Walden as a consequence of the potential new housing developments.  This issue was raised as a concern at the governors’ annual meeting for parents last month.  The Chair of governors and Headteacher explained to the meeting that a sixth form college in Saffron Walden would only be feasible (in terms of having sustainable numbers) if the County High sixth form closed.

We would like to repeat to all parents the reassurance that we gave at the meeting that it is inconceivable that the sixth form at SWCHS will close.  As an academy SWCHS is effectively a state-funded independent school and therefore neither the District Council, nor the County Council, nor any developer has the power or legal means to close our sixth form. 

It is also important to reiterate that the County High sixth form is one of the top performing post-16 institutions in England and was, in last May’s Ofsted inspection, rated “outstanding”.  Nearly 600 students attend our sixth form, of which over a quarter transfers from other schools.

We would like therefore to provide an absolute reassurance that the governors and senior leadership team at SWCHS are fully committed to maintaining our sixth form as the leading provider of post-16 education in the area. 

We would of course be happy to respond to any further concerns or questions that you may have.

Yours sincerely

John Hartley                           Mark Hayes
Headteacher                          Chair of Governors
Saffron Walden High School

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Posted in Education and Schools, Uttlesford District Council, Uttlesford Local Plan, Water and Sewage
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