Thomas Whitham Sixth Form

Lancashire County Council are proposing to consult on the future viability of Thomas Whitham Sixth Form, Barden Lane, Burnley, BB10 1JD. 

A consultation booklet (PDF 449 KB) provides more information about the proposal. We can provide copies of the consultation document to members of the local community on request

All interested parties are invited to share their views on this proposal, which includes giving consideration to the possibility of the school closing. Should the decision be taken to close the school, this would come into effect from 31 August 2020.

On 5 September 2019, Cabinet gave their approval for a stage one consultation to take place on this proposal from 16 September to 1 November 2019.

How to share your views

We welcome your views on this viability review. All comments will be considered very carefully before any further action is taken.
It is important that you share your views by Friday, 1 November 2019, by any of the ways listed below. We will not be able to consider any responses received after this date.

Consultation event

A consultation event will take place at the school on 23 September 2019 from 3pm to 8pm.

You will need to booking an appointment before the event by emailing the 16-19 Education and Skills Team at or by phoning 01772 530111.

It would be very helpful if you could let us know the issues you wish to raise in advance of the consultation event so that we are able to provide you with as full a response as possible.

The closing date for booking an appointment is Thursday 19 September 2019 at 5pm. 


Complete the online questionnaire

Respond in writing

By email to:

By post to:

Business Intelligence
Lancashire County Council
PO Box 100
County Hall

Alternatively, you can complete the questionnaire in the consultation booklet and return it to the general office at Thomas Whitham Sixth Form. This will then be returned to Lancashire County Council on your behalf.

Please submit one response per person to this consultation


Date Stage
16 September to 1 November 2019 Stage one - consultation
December 2019 Cabinet meeting to consider feedback from the consultation and decide whether or not to publish a statutory notice on a proposal to close the school
If required
January 2020 Stage two – publication of statutory notice on a proposal to close the school
January/February 2020 Stage three – statutory representation period
April 2020 Stage four – final decision made by cabinet
31 August 2020 Stage five – implementation (if approved)

Cabinet reports and decisions

5 September 2019 – approval for stage one consultation


Thomas Whitham Sixth Form is a stand-alone 16-18 school located in Burnley. The school opened in 2006 as a result of the Building Schools for the Future programme which took place across the Burnley district. The school was intended to be the sixth form provision for five 11-16 secondary schools in the area, with the sixth form being the natural progression route for young people once they left year 11. 

Since it opened, the school has been judged as 'Good' at every OfSTED inspection. OfSTED undertook a short inspection of the school in March 2016 and determined that the school continues to be judged as 'Good'. 

When the school was created, it was designed for 600 students. The school has never reached this capacity, with the highest number of students being 463 when the school first opened. The number of students at the school has a direct impact on the amount of funding it receives. Despite the best efforts of the school and with the support of the local authority, Thomas Whitham Sixth Form has not been able to increase its student numbers sufficiently. The school's funding allocation for the 2019/20 academic year is based on 135 students. This means that the school is at risk financially as its operating costs have been higher than its income for a number of years. 

Following the resignation of the Principal in the summer term, Thomas Whitham Sixth Form's governing body reviewed the financial position of the school and the student number projections. As a result, the governing body wrote to the local authority in July 2019 to express their concern about their financial situation and asked Lancashire County Council to undertake a review on the future viability of the school. 

Governors took steps to appoint an Acting Principal from within the existing leadership team until the future of the school is clarified.

As a result, Cabinet made the decision for Lancashire County Council to proceed with the proposal.