Sixth form shake-up on the cards

A NEW multi-million pound sixth form centre for students from west Ipswich and the southern tip of Suffolk could be open by 2009, The Evening Star can reveal today.

A NEW multi-million pound sixth form centre for students from west Ipswich and the southern tip of Suffolk could be open by 2009, The Evening Star can reveal today.

The new centre would be separate from existing high schools, but would share some of the same staff and would offer students a wider choice of subjects than they currently enjoy.

However it could mean that some existing sixth forms might close with their students travelling to the new centre.

Schools from across the area have come together to draw up proposals for new sixth form arrangements as part of the Suffolk County Council's consultation on 14-19 education.

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The schools are: Chantry High, Claydon High, East Bergholt High, Hadleigh High, Holbrook High, Stoke High, Thurleston High, Thomas Wolsey School, and Westbourne High.

The county council is carrying out the review in consultation with the Learning and Skills Council, which would finance any new sixth form centre.

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Judith Mobbs, from the county council, is helping to organise the review.

She said: “We have asked all the interested parties to give us their views, and there is a competition running to get proposals for high school provision in the area.

“The schools in the area are getting together and are drawing up proposals - and they are asking parents for their views.”

Stoke High headteacher Alan Whittaker is leading the consortium of schools and said they felt that a new centre with strong links to the feeder schools would be the best solution.

He said: “We need to be able to offer students the widest possible choice of subjects. At present there is nowhere in Suffolk that offers the International Baccalaureate. That is something we want to change.”

But it was important that the new centre should not be isolated from its feeder schools.

Mr Whittaker said: “We would like to have youngsters under 16 using the centre and also for teachers from the feeder schools spending some time at the centre each week.

“We want the students to get a feeling of continuity with their schools - but that doesn't necessarily mean being on the same site, it could be with the same teacher.”

Mr Whittaker said no site for a centre had so far been identified, but the ideal place would be in the south west of Ipswich, near the Copdock Mill interchange.

“It needs to have good access for people from the Holbrook and Hadleigh area as well as the town itself,” he said.


2004: Review of 14-19 education in Suffolk set up.

Schools in west Ipswich and south Suffolk form group to consider future sixth form provision.

2005: Schools draw up their proposal for the future sixth form provision.

Early 2006: Parents contacted for their views.

Early 2007: Learning and Skills Council decides what provision should be funded.

2007-2009: Construction of sixth form centre.

September 2009: Sixth form centre opens its doors for its first students.

Advantages of school-based sixth forms:

It offers continuity of study for students.

Teachers get the opportunity to work with a wide range of pupils, from 11 to 19 years old.

Students are more likely to remain in full-time education if they can stay at their “own” school.

It is likely to be easier for students to travel to school - a large sixth form centre would have more travelling a long distance.

Advantages of a sixth-form centre:

It offers a wider range of subjects, and more options to combine subjects.

Some students like moving out of a school atmosphere at the age of 16.

The curriculum can be geared exclusively to sixth-form studies.

Specialist teachers can know their sixth-form subjects in greater detail.

nSuffolk County Council is asking for views about the changes between15 May and 4 August Consultation forms are available from all Suffolk libraries, or can be found on the county council website at

If anyone wishes to present their views in person, there will be sessions at Ipswich on Tuesday 13 June, 6-9pm and at Hadleigh on Monday 10 July, 6-9pm.

To book a session, e-mail or write to School Organisation Review, Children & Young People's Services, Gold Floor 3 , 8 Russell Road, Ipswich, IP1 2BX by Friday 12 May 2006.

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