01/Sep/2014 - Last News Update: 14:03

Sixth form closures in Merthyr a step closer

Category: Wales

Published: 21st Jan 2010 11:39:29

Plans to shut sixth forms in Merthyr Tydfil schools and replace them with an expanded tertiary college have moved a step forward.

Councillors voted on Wednesday night to take a proposal to close the four sixth forms out to public consultation.

Many students and teachers at the schools are opposing the plans and protested outside the meeting.

The council has said the move would give vocational courses equal status to academic subjects.

Councillors voted 25 for and six against the closures.

Those in favour of closure say the cost of maintaining sixth forms and a desire to offer more subjects in one dedicated setting.

Councils across Wales are considering similar moves.

Merthyr councillors voted in June last year to investigate plans to reshape its post-16 education sector.

The council would create what it calls a Merthyr Learning Quarter at the site of the present Merthyr Tydfil College.

But supporters of sixth forms said the school-based facilities provided a supportive environment in which teenagers could excel.

Geraint Lewis, 19, who is studying at Cyfarthfa High School, said: "We don't want to lose our sixth forms, it's such a tight community. The support we get is fantastic, the pastoral care is second to none.

"At a sixth form college, we would be taught in a university-type set up - we would be in massive class sizes which would be no good for us.

'Very academic'

"We can see the good points but as far as we're concerned, the bad points outweigh the good points by a long way."

Merthyr council has said it must do everything it can as an authority to offer its young people the opportunities to compete in the 21st Century.

Councillor Richard Thomas, cabinet member for integrated children's services, said previously: "Sixth forms were created in grammar schools to promote education achievement at a very academic level.

"I'm not suggesting that they haven't modified their stance over the years but unfortunately I think that we are not getting the value for money that we really need for a vast number of other pupils who are not wholly academic.

"We need to give vocational courses equal status with the academic."

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BBC News, 2010. Sixth form closures in Merthyr a step closer [Online] (Updated 21st Jan 2010)
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