Sixth form education at Fylde’s biggest school will be axed from September next year, it has been confirmed.
Lancashire County Council’s cabinet has given the go-ahead for the closure of 16-18 age group provision at Lytham St Annes Technology and Performing Arts College.
No further post-16 students will be admitted beyond those currently studying for A-levels.
The College, popularly known by its old name of Lytham St Annes High, has a budget deficit of £700,000 and the governors say that the loss of the sixth form is necessary as they aim to make the college solvent by 2018-19.
Headteacher Philip Wood said: “While the governing body is relieved that the local authority has agreed with the proposal, this is a very sad day. We are proud of the achievements of our post-16 students over many years and it is a great shame that the level of funding received by the school from central Government, allied to the reduction in the number of students opting to stay on in our sixth form, has forced this decision.
“Like all schools we face the challenge of continuing to deliver a high quality of education despite a significant real term reduction in funding.
“Without the decision to end post-16 provision at the school, the full effects of funding cuts would have fallen disproportionally on students in the 11-16 part of the school. That would inevitably have resulted in a reduction in standards for the majority in our school.”
Marcus Pickering, a former head boy who launched the Save Lytham St Annes Sixth Form Facebook group to protest at the proposal, said: “I’m devastated that the sixth form, which was once the school’s jewel in the crown, is to close.
“The reality seems to be no-one wants to study in the sixth form there any more and so we got little support from prospective pupils. Without real political will to provide significant investment in the sixth form to reverse its fortunes, we were sadly faced with an impossible uphill task.”
Fylde MP Mark Menzies said: “It saddens me to see the loss of A Levels at the High School, but I understand why the headteacher and governors have taken this difficult decision. The funding options for colleges, and the decision by many young people to opt for these colleges, means A Levels were no longer a financially viable option at Lytham St Annes High School.
“This is about what young people want, and not Government funding.
“However, we must not lose sight of the fact that what remains is an excellent high school.”
Blackpool and The Fylde College, which joined with the High School in forming the adjacent Lytham Sixth Form last year, has stressed it will be business as usual there despite the loss of the High School sixth form.
Catherine Hill, vice-principal of Blackpool and the Fylde College, said: “Lytham Sixth Form College will continue to offer technical and professional programmes, which are increasingly being recognised as providing the best routes into higher education and professional careers.”