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Thomas Whitham Sixth Form

During the period 16 September to 1 November 2019, Lancashire County Council undertook an initial consultation on the future viability of Thomas Whitham Sixth Form, Barden Lane, Burnley, BB10 1JD. During this period, a consultation event was held at the school on 23 September 2019. All interested parties were invited to share their views on the proposal. You can view the consultation booklet produced to support this initial consultation period.

On 16 January 2020, Cabinet gave approval for a statutory consultation to take place on this proposal from 29 January to 3 March 2020. Cabinet will consider the results of the consultation and make a final decision on the proposal within two months of the representation period closing. Should the decision be taken to close the school, this would be effective from 31 August 2020.

You can view the public notice and complete proposal electronically.

Copies of the complete proposal can also be inspected at Thomas Whitham Sixth Form at the address above; at Lancashire County Council's Chaddesley House office; at Burnley Borough Council's head office; and local libraries. Copies can be obtained from Sarah Hirst in the Education Improvement Service (11-25years) at the address below.

How to respond

Any person may object to or make comments on the proposal by post to:

Sarah Hirst
Education Improvement Service (11-25 years)
Room CH2:24
PO Box 100
County Hall
Preston
PR1 0LD

Or email to: sarah.hirst@lancashire.gov.uk.

To be considered as part of the decision making process to determine the proposal, responses must be received no later than 5pm on 3 March 2020.

Timescales

There are five stages of a statutory process that have to be followed legally:

Date Stage
16 September to 1 November 2019 Stage one - consultation
16 January 2020 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
January 2020 Stage two – publication of statutory notice on the proposal to close the school
January/February 2020 Stage three – statutory representation period
April 2020 Stage four – final decision made by Lancashire County Council's Cabinet
31 August 2020 Stage five – implementation (if approved)

Cabinet reports and decisions

16 January 2020 – decision to publish a statutory notice

5 September 2019 – approval for stage one consultation

Background

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'.

The school's facilities and staffing were originally based on a cohort of 600 students. Due to the falling student numbers, the school has recently reduced the number of places available to 450 students and this has reduced the amount of space it occupies on the Burnley Campus. The school's funding allocation from the Education and Skills Funding Agency for the 2019/20 academic year is based on 139 students. 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 to generate financial sustainability as a result. 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 2019 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.