Leeds West Academy: Save Our Sixth Form
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SAVE OUR SIXTH FORM!
Please support us in fighting the proposed closure of the Sixth Form at Leeds West Academy from September 2019.
We oppose this proposal for the following reasons:
THE LACK OF MEANINGFUL CONSULTATION
Our children arrived home with a letter on Tuesday 27th a March, 2 days prior to the closure of the school for the Easter break, informing us of this proposal.
The consultation period ends on the 1st May (however on the document on their website, it states: ‘All consultations must be completed and returned by noon on Friday 27th April 2018.’).
For nearly half of the timeframe allowed, the school is not even open for parents to speak to anyone. The only proposed meetings with parents are on the 17th April and the 19th April for 1 hour only.
This has given us no confidence that there is any interest in our views, or that the decision has not already been prejudged.
THE IMPACT ON THE YEAR 11 PUPILS
Under this proposal, if a current Year 11 student obtains a place in the Sixth Form for the 2018 Academic Year at the school, they will have to move after that year to another education provider for their second year of study.
This is clearly utterly unacceptable. This will disrupt their studies, provide no continuity of education, create the additional burden and stress during their post 16 studies of trying to obtain a place elsewhere and will undoubtedly place them at a serious disadvantage in obtaining their grades.
It is inexcusable, when this proposal will have been discussed for months, to have allowed these pupils to apply for a Sixth Form place at the school and fail to inform pupils and parents this would potentially be the case. Due to how late in the day this has been communicated, many entrant application dates for other providers have expired, leaving pupils in a disgraceful situation.
This bombshell has been dropped on the Year 11 pupils whilst they are revising for their GCSEs.
THE FINANCIAL PRIORITIES OF THE SCHOOL
Leeds West Academy is part of the White Rose Academies chain which runs three schools in Leeds, all of which have been rated by Ofsted as ‘requires mprovement’.
Leeds West Academy prior to its latest Ofsted report, was classed a a ‘good’ school. It has deteriorated on White Rose Academies’ watch.
In its last submitted financial report, there does not appear to be any dramatic funding shortfall. The Academies Trust is not in deficit. Indeed, it’s Executive Principal in 2017 was being paid remuneration of £115 -120k with pension contributions of £20-25k for that year.
Although it is mentioned in the consultation document that funding for the Sixth Form is subsidised by the Year 7-11 Years’ budget, and the Principal has mentioned in an article in the Yorkshire Evening Post, underfunding in Sixth Form education, it’s Q&A document states that this is not the reason for the closure: ‘There are increasing pressures on school/Academy finances, but this is not the reason for this decision...’. The reason stated is low numbers. It does not appear however, that the school has done anything to improve numbers.
The rationale we are getting is mixed and lacking transparency.
In the letter home to parents, it lists as one of the benefits to the Years 7-11 pupils of closing the Sixth Form as:
‘Enhanced educational experience; an overseas visit for every student’.
We are appalled that a non-curricular trip abroad, is seen as more important, when the mandatory school leaving age is 18, than continuing to fund Sixth Form provision in the school.
THE IMPACT ON THE LONG TERM VIABILITY OF THE SCHOOL
Leeds West Academy is one of the largest Secondary Schools in Leeds with a large intake of pupils across the area.
However, several pupils are within the catchment area for schools in Pudsey which currently, under their Academy Trust, run a joint Sixth Form.
We believe the loss of the Sixth Form will mean those parents will no longer choose Leeds West Academy as an option. Some parents however, will not have that option.
As pupils at Leeds West Academy will be expected to do their post 16 studies elsewhere, they will have less options available, face higher competition for places post 16 (risking not being able to find a place) and the prospect of travelling on 2 buses to other providers which have been proposed.
This will no longer make the school an attractive proposition to many parents, risking the long term viability of the school and its ability to remain open.
THE IMPACT ON THE LOCAL AREA AND SOCIAL MOBILITY
Leeds West Academy is described as: ‘...an above-average sized school with a sixth form. Most pupils are White/British. The proportion of pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities is above the national average. The proportion of disadvantaged pupils is well above the national average.’
There have been significant moves to invest in the Leeds West area, though there are parts of Leeds West that contain areas of poverty.
The school has enabled those pupils to progress and achieve, increasing their social mobility. As previously stated, prior to its recent Ofstead report, this was a ‘good’ rated school with many facilities other surrounding schools lacked, including Performing Arts.
If this proposal goes through, the school will be a far less attractive option. If standards continue to fall in the school, pupils will find it difficult to compete with other children from more priveleged areas of Leeds for A Level places in particular.
This will impact on future skills and income levels in the area, as social mobility will be more difficult to achieve for those from poorer backgrounds.
Our children are paying the price for the failings of White Rose Academies Trust and we feel that our children (especially the Year 11 pupils), have been written off by their school Leadership Team and their Academies Trust.
Financial background does not influence intelligence. With the right opportunities, these children can achieve. Retaining their Sixth Form is essential to this.
Thank you for your support.
Leeds West Academy S.O.S Campaign
Save Our Sixth Form
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