Talks of specialist sixth form

SCHOOLS in the Ipswich area could today be heading for a shake-up with the creation of a specialist sixth-form college for the area.In the wake of government education reforms, attention is also set to be given to providing more courses for pupils who are not academic but need practical qualifications to set them up for life.

SCHOOLS in the Ipswich area could today be heading for a shake-up with the creation of a specialist sixth-form college for the area.

In the wake of government education reforms, attention is also set to be given to providing more courses for pupils who are not academic but need practical qualifications to set them up for life.

Suffolk County Council is looking again at the provision of high school education as a new Education Bill is debated in Parliament.

This could lead to a shake-up in school provision in rural parts of the county where there is still a three-tier school system with primary, middle and high schools.

In south east Suffolk, however, where there is a two-tier system, changes are not expected to be radical.

One option being considered could be the establishment of a sixth form college for pupils from across south east Suffolk and south west Ipswich.

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But county council young people's spokeswoman Patricia O'Brien said the needs of non-academic youngsters much be taken into consideration.

She said: “We want to ensure we offer the best and most appropriate education to all our youngsters. Academic courses are important but not everyone wants to go to university - many people want practical education leading to trade qualifications.”

Any centres would have to have easy access for students from across the area as well as attractive courses - youngsters over the age of 16 cannot be compelled to remain in the education system.

Mrs O'Brien said that although schools now had a great deal more independence, they still looked to the local education authority (LEA) for guidance and to set up a framework to allocate places for students.

She said: “This will not change - the LEA will retain a key strategic role for education in Suffolk.”

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