NEARLY 200 worried parents have joined a campaign group to save a sixth-form partnership threatened with closure.
Staff, students and parents have reacted with shock at the news that a sixth form facility, called ‘6’, opened in September by Flint High School and St Richard Gwyn Catholic High School could be axed as part of a radical education shake-up.
The facility was opened to great fanfare earlier this year, with staff at the schools believing the new collaboration would ensure sixth-form provision would be saved from the chop under Flintshire Council’s ‘21st Century Schools’ programme.
But after a draft proposal from Flintshire Council outlining an option that would lead to its potential closure was received by the school, people in Flint have launched a Facebook campaign, called ‘Flint High School: Save our 6’, to raise awareness of the threat and urge residents to attend a consultation meeting on Monday.
Pamela McClean, headteacher at Flint High School, has also launched an impassioned defence of the sixth form, saying changes “will put the quality of learning in some subjects at risk”.
She said: “The feeling is very much that the sixth form partnership between the two schools is excellent and there is disbelief that this could all come to an end.
“We have all worked so hard to build Flint High into a school that students, parents and the wider community can be proud of.
“I cannot understand why our students would be denied the choice of a vibrant and sustainable sixth form education within our school. Since the partnership arrangement launched in September, students are thriving and we have high numbers choosing to stay and study for A levels at their home school.”
She said since the new partnership was formed, the academic results at the school were the best they have ever been.
Mrs McClean added: “If we lose our sixth form we will lose some of our specialist teachers too.
“As a successful school, we want everyone to progress and we are committed to raising aspirations – we don’t want that to change.
“Your students are known as individuals and I personally know every student, I feel that what we have to offer here is truly special.”
Parents and pupils have also reacted with shock to the threat, with many taking to Facebook urging residents in Flint to attend a further consultation on the possible plans, which will take place at 6pm on Monday at Flint High School. It follows a meeting held at St Richard Gwyn on Monday.
Community leaders from the area have also issued their own worries about the plans.
Delyn MP David Hanson said: “I am concerned at the possible proposals.
“I will be meeting the schools concerned to hear more about the implications of the proposals.
“The loss to Flint would be serious “
Sandy Mewies, AM, said: “I have previously expressed very strong concerns about taking sixth form education away from my Delyn constituency.
“I do not believe that a one size fits all solution is the answer.
“I am aware of very real concerns regarding the proposals for Flint and I will be seeking clarification about these from Flintshire County Council.”
In the council’s proposed changes, provisions at Holywell High School, Connah’s Quay High School, John Summers High School in Queensferry and Elfed High School in Buckley could be affected.
The proposals, which are likely to be called-in and scrutinised by the Welsh Government after a score of objections, would see the sixth forms at all four schools closed and a central sixth form hub would be created on Golftyn Lane, Connah’s Quay.
Students at Elfed High would be encouraged to attend the sixth form at the Alun School, Mold.
Tom Davies, head of development and resources at Flintshire Council, said: “In accordance with the decision of councillors, a series of consultations was held in Holywell, Connah’s Quay, Queensferry and Buckley in relation to sixth form education and training from 2016 onward.
“The consultations scheduled in Flint will present options for consideration for the future provision of post-16 education.
“The consultation is open until the end of January 2014, and details of the options and how to respond will be available at the high schools and on the council's website (www.flintshire. gov.uk/ AreaSchoolsReview).
“Councillors will then consider the responses and decide on progress.”