School to submit bid for sixth form

POSITIVE ... Whitburn C of E Academy principal Alan Hardie.
POSITIVE ... Whitburn C of E Academy principal Alan Hardie.

A SOUTH Tyneside school will submit its bid to add a sixth form this week after a “positive” meeting with parents.

Whitburn C of E Academy was granted permission to extend its provision and cater for students up to the age of 18 by the Department for Education in 2012.

This was subject to the school gaining the necessary funding to expand its building to accommodate the additional pupils.

Parents and the wider community were updated on the plans at a public meeting last week.

Principal Alan Hardie said: “The meeting went very well. The support from parents was positive and we are submitting the bid to the Department for Education this week.

“We should hear more in April, if successful.”

The school, in Rackley Way, Whitburn, is hoping to submit a formal planning application to South Tyneside Council to extend the school building early next month.

If given the go-ahead, the sixth form would cater for up to 280 16 to 18-year-olds taking A-level subjects.

The majority of pupils at the school stay in education after leaving Year 11, with the vast majority travelling outside the borough.

There are no Anglican sixth forms in South Tyneside or its neighbouring authorities.

Choice has been further reduced by South Tyneside College’s decision to scrap A-levels and focus on vocational courses.

If funding is secured, Whitburn C of E Academy will follow Harton Technology College in South Shields and St Joseph’s RC Academy in Hebburn in establishing a sixth form.

A number of other secondary schools offer post-16 provision in partnership with other schools and colleges, but they are not fully-fledged sixth forms.

Whitburn C of E Academy was the first school in the borough to become an academy in January 2011.

Previously known as Whitburn C of E School, it was rated outstanding by Ofsted in 2009.