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Shaking up post 16 in Swansea

Swansea council have announced some ideas as the basis for discussion about the future of secondary education in Swansea. Once again this includes the proposed closure of one secondary school (Daniel James this time), but now also a proposal to shake up post 16 in the county.

At first glance, Olchfa should do quite well out of this. Gowerton and Bishop Gore would lose their sixth forms under the proposal and Olchfa would become the sixth form centre for the West of the county.

The problem with this is it fails to take into account why students stay in sixth form as opposed to go into FE. My experience is that a big factor in choosing sixth form rather than college is that they know the school, the teachers know them and there is a comfort involved. Having to move schools takes that away, and when compared to a shiny new merged FE college, with a brand spanking new campus, I just don’t see the numbers that the council are projecting actually coming through the doors at Olchfa.

As well as projecting a sixth form I don’t think the school could ever attract, the plan also suggests that numbers would be cut further down the school to balance the numbers. And here is the real threat. Lower numbers would further reduce the numbers of Olchfa students to go through into Olchfa sixth form. As a result the whole school shrinks in a slow decline. Not good news for anyone.

So while I sympathise with the councils problems, I for one will be writing to suggest that this really isn’t the best way forward, especially at a time when things like Moodle and the county video conferencing make new forms of collaberation between schools more effective than they have ever been.

Dave Stacey

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