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Sussex fight for 6th form


A whole town on the Sussex coast is up in arms at an attempt to close the local school’s sixth form.

At Seaford Head Community College, the school’s curriculum and fabric have been allowed to deteriorate, the governors pursued empty PR gestures like achieving specialist status as a sports school, ignoring the fundamental function of a school, to educate the young. Then, in October, they sent pupils in year 9 home with a letter saying that they were suspending the sixth form, and that pupils would have to go elsewhere in the county for AS and A level education.

Seaford students on the march for their college.
Photo: Jack Stonehouse

They can do this because the Brown government, with one hand promising to raise the school-leaving age by 2015, with the other has restructured post-16 education funding. Sixth forms are portrayed as expensive, and the county council and government wish to drive pupils away from sixth forms, and AS and A levels, and into further education and the new vocational diplomas.

The principal and governors presented the decision as a suspension of the sixth form, rather than a closure, for the sole reason that suspension allowed them to avoid the requirement to consult.

Sixth form education has always been, by its very nature, expensive. The smaller classes required for study at a higher academic level, the equipment, the necessary infrastructure are all money well spent, not only for the pupils in the sixth form itself, but for the benefits they bring to pupils in lower years. The town has fought hard over the past two months, organising petitions, public meetings and the first demonstrations to be seen in the town for a very long time.