‘Let’s work together’ call by Flintshire college chief amid sixth forms fears

Reporter:

Kate Forrester

THE principal of Deeside College says teachers and lecturers must work together amid fears over the future of sixth forms.

David Jones made the call after councillors and headteachers raised fears that further education in parts of Flintshire could be swallowed up by the ever-expanding college.

At a meeting of Flintshire’s lifelong learning committee last week, Pamela McClean, head of Flint High School, made an impassioned plea to councillors at a meeting of Flintshire’s lifelong learning committee to protect sixth forms based in local schools.

Mrs McClean said: “I have worked in three high schools in Flintshire – Mold Alun and Hawarden and I am headteacher at Flint – and there is a definite difference between them.

“The problem we have in Flint is that we have to really encourage pupils to continue with their education and progress to university.

“We have to work extremely hard to keep these children in school and the impact of a school losing its sixth form is significant.

“I am fearful that in Flintshire there could be a two-tier system and that really troubles me as head of a high school.”

The issue was raised after a presentation by Mr Jones, which looked at plans to expand Deeside College’s recently-acquired Northop campus.

He has moved to reassure headteachers and said schools and colleges across Wales were all facing difficult times ahead.

He added: “These are challenging times for all of us who provide education and training in Wales, as we all have to face up to the challenge of widening choice and improving the achievements of our learners against a backdrop of reducing funding and the need for capital investment.

“Deeside College is widely regarded as Wales’ leading college, and our success over recent years is a result of an outstanding workforce and governing body – our funding system is no different to the sixth form funding of local schools, so to suggest that we have some sort of advantage over others is misleading.”

He added: “We all need to be more efficient, improve performance and ensure we secure significant capital investment for schools and college.

“We will only achieve this if we work together, face up to the reality of funding challenges, and put aside institutional self-interest and put learners first.

“Deeside College is working in partnership with Flintshire County Council and all the high schools to develop a long-term plan that will achieve this.”

Lifelong learning committee members also aired mixed views about the future of the county’s education provision.

Flint Castle councillor Ian Roberts, who is also a teacher in Wrexham, said: “The investment in Deeside College is very clear and we can all see it.

“Difficulties can arise when students visit the learning centre at the college then return to their own school, which may be lacking in investment.”

But committee chairman Peter Macfarlane said the meeting was “a useful milestone”which had helped to build confidence about the future modernisation of schools across Flintshire.

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