Future unclear for Ipswich Academy’s sixth form as student numbers fall from 110 to 22
- Credit: Gregg Brown
The future of Ipswich Academy’s sixth form is in doubt after student numbers plummeted causing the school to lose hundreds of thousands of pounds in funding.
An Ofsted mini inspection of the school published on Monday said the sixth form, part of the former Holywells High School, was “unviable” and revealed that no new students joined in September.
In the last academic year around 110 students were in the sixth form – worth about £550,000 to the school in central government funding. Now 22 students remain in Years 13 and 14.
The Ofsted report says: “No new students joined the sixth form this September. Very few students remain in Years 13 and 14, making sixth-form provision unviable.
“The academy is working closely with other local providers to ensure that these remaining students are able to continue their education and receive the teaching and support they need to achieve their target grades.
“However, the reasons for these changes have not been communicated effectively and, understandably, are causing concern amongst students, their parents and carers.”
The school was rated ‘inadequate’ and placed into special measures in February. In September a new academy sponsor, Paradigm Trust, was brought in to run the school taking over from the Learning Schools Trust.
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Amanda Phillips, executive principal, of Paradigm Trust, said: “The sixth form at Ipswich Academy is small and its future is under consideration.
“We are arranging to speak to the parents and students concerned and we are considering how best to support the students in these year groups so that they can achieve their target grades. No final decision has yet been taken.”
Ben Gummer, MP for Ipswich, said the school had to offer “good provision” for the remaining students.
“This is a sponsor which has a strong team with a clear vision of what they want to achieve,” he said.
“I am confident that they are turning the school around as quickly as they possibly can.”
Graham White, secretary of Suffolk’s NUT, said: “This is incredibly worrying for pupils who are already on their courses. Where are they going to go and what is going to happen to teachers and support staff if the sixth form closes?”
The latest mini Ofsted inspection, says senior leaders are taking “effective action” to raise standards and bring the school out of special measures.
The report states: “The academy trust has had too little time, since it took over in September, to impact on student progress and achievement. Nonetheless, the fresh start, under new leadership and with a number of staff changes, has clearly signalled higher expectations and a determination to root out weaknesses in provision.”
“They have prioritised getting the academy open, operating and fully staffed. At the time of the inspection the trust did not have a statement of action.”
That plan, which needs to ensure “rapid improvement” at the school, will be evaluated at Ofsted’s next visit.