Axe poised over sixth form

Lytham St Annes Technology and Performing Arts College
Lytham St Annes Technology and Performing Arts College
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Sixth form education at Fylde’s biggest school is set to be axed.

Lancashire County Council cabinet has given the go-ahead for the closure of 16-18 age group provision at Lytham St Annes Technology and Performing Arts College.

Subject to a ‘call-in’ period which runs until Tuesday and during which any objections can be raised, the sixth form at the Ansdell-based school will close from September 2018.

No further post-16 students will be admitted beyond those currently studying for A-levels.

The College has a budget deficit of £700,000 and the loss of the sixth form has been put forward as a vital measure by the college governors, who must present a recovery plan to the Government and be solvent by 2018-19.

Ahead of the cabinet meeting at County Hall, the matter went before the county council’s executive scrutiny committee but not a single councillor made any comment on a detailed 15-page report which outlined the College’s financial plight.

County Council skills coordinator Sarah Hirst outlined how the figures just do not add up for the college which is seeking to slash spending.

She told the committee that some £400,000 funding from the 11-16 main college was propping up post 16 provision.

Governors had opted for closure as “the only way to make a dent in the budget deficit” .

A consultation was launched on the proposed closure on December 1 and ran until January 20. There were 49 responses, with 47 objections, one supporting the closure and one neither agreeing or disagreeing.

A report prepared for councillors noted: “The Governing Body believe that the school is financially viable providing that losses for the sixth form do not continue, and that this proposal will make a significant contribution to the financial recovery of the school.”

Philip Wood, headmaster of Lytham St Annes Technology and Performing Arts College, said he was unable to comment until after the call-in period, but Lytham Sixth Form, a joint venture between the college and Blackpool and Sixth Form College which opened in September 2015, stressed it will be business as usual there after the approved closure comes into effect.

Blackpool and The Fylde College vice principal Catherine Hill said: “Lytham Sixth Form College continues to offer Ofsted outstanding technical and professional programmes, which are increasingly being recognised as providing the best routes into higher education and professional careers.

“Support for technical education from industry has never been higher and at B&FC we firmly believe it should be considered on a level footing with academic study, a view backed up by Government and confirmed in the Chancellor’s Budget this week.”