Parents' fears over plans for county sixth-form hub

Published date: 11 December 2013 |
Published by: Romilly Scragg 
Read more articles by Romilly Scragg  Email reporter


WORRIED parents have expressed concerns over a proposal that could see the closure of a school’s sixth form.

Flint High School and St Richard Gwyn Catholic High School have organised meetings amid concerns they could lose their post-16 provision after receiving a draft proposal from Flintshire Council outlining an option that could lead to its closure.

The proposal forms part of the council’s ‘21st Century Schools’ programme and could see students from Flint join a county sixth form hub in Connah’s Quay.

Parents met officers from Flintshire Council as well as St Richard Gwyn Catholic High School headteacher Ron Keating and Flintshire cabinet member for education Chris Bithell at the school on Monday.

Matters raised by parents included the provision of a faith-based education post-16 and high-quality pastoral care.

One mother said during a family crisis her son, who is now at university, had benefitted from having teachers who knew him well.

She said: “There are teachers in this school who have known our family and my son for years. If it hadn’t been for them my son would not be in university.

“Things like that happen to families every day,” she added, “and that level of pastoral care would not be maintained in a hub.”

Another parent challenged the efficiency of moving the sixth form.

“You’ve decided to build a hub,” he said. “You’re building something and now you’re telling us you want a consultation.

“You’ve taken away our free transport,” he added, “and now you’re taking away the provision for our children to stay.”

Dave McGuire, who has children at St Mary’s Primary School, asked for assurances that students’ attainment and spiritual development would be maintained if the sixth form joined the hub.

Tom Davies, Flintshire’s head of development and resources, responded by saying it was “what happened in the classroom” that mattered.

And he said if a move went ahead, teachers would be transferred so the talent would not be lost.

But he added it was difficult to say what the outcomes would be.

Ian Budd, Flintshire’s director of lifelong learning, said he could give an absolute assurance that before any decisions were taken, councillors would have to be convinced that prospects would be improved and bettered.

He said there was a built in safety measure in school-building planning.

“If you’re not going to improve you stay with the status quo,” he said.

Parent Steven McNally asked why, if faith provision was so important, there was an option in the consultation document that would mean the end of post-16 provision at St Richard Gwyn Catholic High School?

And his concerns were echoed by another parent who said our ancestors would be spinning in their graves.

She said she feared a future where it would be the hub or nothing.

A further meeting will be held at Flint High School on Monday at 6pm.

The consultation is open until the end of January and details of the options and how to respond will be available at the schools and on the council’s website, SchoolsReview.

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