PUPILS have spoken out against plans to axe sixth forms in a school shake-up.
Flintshire Council leaders will tomorrow debate the public’s views on proposals on the future of schools in the county.
The controversial proposals have prompted concern among pupils opposed to plans to close sixth forms in Holywell and Buckley, while opposition has also been registered about a proposed sixth form “hub” on Deeside.
But Flintshire Council says it has also received support for its preferred options.
The report to be discussed by councillors recommends ‘progressing’ the preferred options, agreeing for statutory notices to be prepared for publication where appropriate.
During consultation, more than 80 per cent of children and young people said they “strongly disagree” with the preferred Holywell option of having a new school for pupils aged 11 to 16 and a new primary school to replace Ysgol Perth y Terfyn and Ysgol y Fron.
Concerns included the possible impact on Holywell if post-16 provision was moved out of the area.
But Flintshire director of lifelong learning Ian Budd said “maintaining the status quo is clearly not an option”, due to reduced numbers at the high school and the financial implications of maintaining an “unviable sixth form”.
In Queensferry, Shotton and Connah’s Quay, opinion is split on the preferred option to develop a three to 16 facility at John Summers High School and a post-16 hub at Connah’s Quay High School.
Although 41 per cent of respondents said they “strongly disagree” with the proposals, almost 35 per cent “strongly agree” with it.
Mr Budd writes in his report some members of staff and governors at Connah’s Quay High School were “particularly critical” of the option to create a post-16 hub but parents were generally positive.
In Buckley the preferred option is to retain 11-16 provision at Elfed High School and rationalise to 600 places, with sixth form courses instead being provided for pupils at Alun School, Mold.
The majority of respondents during the consultation were opposed to the plans, with three-quarters of children and young people saying they “strongly disagree” with it.
Mr Budd writes: “A significant body of opinion, including the governing body at Elfed High School, have expressed the view that post-16 education should be retained at the school.
“However, it is acknowledged that the present number on-roll in the sixth form is below the level which can provide financial viability, and to efficiently sustain the required breadth of curriculum in accordance with the learning and skills measure.”
If the three preferred options go ahead, the development costs are expected to be more than £64 million, with half the liability falling to the council.
Concern was voiced by Cllr Carolyn Thomas during a meeting of Flintshire Council’s lifelong learning committee about the costs.
She said £32 million seemed “an awfully large amount” for the remodelling of the schools.
Cllr Dave Mackie told the meeting he was worried secondary schools would be put at risk of closing.
“I’m concerned about the reduced number of students that would be left in schools when the sixth forms are taken out,” he said.