Sixth form dream becomes a reality

Bishop Stephen Conway is welcomed to Whitburn C of E Academy 6th form college by students (left to right) Chloe Manuel. Chloe Inskip and Chris Williams Photograph by FRANK REID
Bishop Stephen Conway is welcomed to Whitburn C of E Academy 6th form college by students (left to right) Chloe Manuel. Chloe Inskip and Chris Williams Photograph by FRANK REID
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A secondary school has seen its dreams become reality as sixth form centre is opened.

The Rt Rev Stephen Conway went along to Whitburn Church of England Academy to officially open the new sixth form centre.

Bishop Stephen Conway is welcomed to Whitburn C of E Academy 6th form college by Chair of Governors Jean Mulley and Principle Alan Hardie.

Bishop Stephen Conway is welcomed to Whitburn C of E Academy 6th form college by Chair of Governors Jean Mulley and Principle Alan Hardie.

The sixth form is a testament to the vision of former headteacher, the late Paula Williams, whose dream it was to see the development come to fruition.

Current principal, Alan Hardie, said they were delighted to have The Rt Rev Conway, Bishop of Ely and chairman of the Church of England’s National Board of Education, at the school to perform the opening ceremony.

He said: “We had an absolutely fantastic day. It was a celebration of the fact that after all these years of hard work we have finally achieved what we wanted, a thriving sixth form for Whitburn Academy.”

The principal said it had taken a number of years to firstly be granted permission to create a sixth form and then to secure the funding to build it.

We had an absolutely fantastic day

Alan Hardie

Miss Williams died in 2011 after contracting pneumonia, but it had been her long-standing ambition to see a sixth form opened at the school.

Mr Hardie said it was an emotional day for Miss Williams’ family and staff at the school.

He said: “I am sure she would have been proud because it was a long term aspiration for her, so our children didn’t have to travel distances to other sixth forms.”

Whitburn CE Academy took in its first batch of sixth formers in September last year and once the new starters join this autumn it will be operating at full capacity of 280 students.

The school, judged outstanding by Ofsted, became an Academy in 2011 and chairman of governors, Jean Mulley, said: “It was very exciting to watch our vision slowly coming to fruition.

“Our reputation for the sixth form has reached the high reputation of our main school. On the whole, our sixth form curriculum follows more academic lines but we also cater for those students who wish to take up apprenticeships or who want to follow professions by training in the job - we are aware that in this day and age not everyone will have the means to go to university.

“We are absolutely delighted to have achieved Miss Williams’ vision. Mr Hardie, together with governors and senior staff, worked tirelessly to achieve this. Our students are happy, secure and content in their new environment.”