Have your say – Sixth Form Investment Proposal
When Hazel Grove High School joined the Laurus Trust, we were clear that the school deserves a strong sixth form of its own. That view has not changed. The question remains, however, about what that sixth form offer should look like.
As it stands, with the exception of one year, since opening in 2012 at no point has the sixth form been more than half full. In fact, the intake at the start of this year was just over 20 students. We should be welcoming at least four times as many. A survey of current year 11 students has indicated that even fewer students wish to take up a place in September 2021. The current situation is having a significant impact on the wider school. Essentially funding for children under 16 is being used to keep the sixth form open. This is not sustainable. We have tried to explore why numbers are low, and the feedback has been valuable. Comments range from a lack of facilities, the range of subjects offered and also the difference between the main school and the sixth form not being significant enough. While students want to continue to be part of HGHS’ close-knit community, they also want to feel like they have progressed.
Given that continuing as we are is not really a viable option, Trustees had two options to consider. The sixth form could close or we could rethink and reinvigorate the sixth form to turn it into something that better aligns with the needs and wants of the students.
We are delighted to tell you, therefore, that the sixth form is going to receive some significant investment. Plans are being developed to completely reset and overhaul nearly every aspect of our sixth form provision. There will be an enhanced curriculum, the building will be redesigned and reconfigured and we will be looking at the rules and culture that help define what the Hazel Grove Sixth Form experience is like.
The changes will be substantial. From our plans so far, it is simply not going to be possible to make the scale of the changes that we think are needed alongside the sixth form continuing to operate – even at half capacity. We are, therefore, proposing to pause sixth form admissions.
Our plans are to:
- Pause admissions for sixth form places for the next two academic years. This means that we will not be able to accept applications for sixth form places in September 2021 and September 2022.
- Using our existing strong relationships with local post-16 providers, we will comprehensively support our current year 11 and 10 students to secure appropriate post-16 destinations.
- A commitment to continue the academic provision to our current Year 12s so that they can finish their courses by the summer of 2022. We will also use the time to develop our vision for the new improved sixth form offer and use the following academic year to undertake the necessary infrastructure and building work.
- It would then be our hope, should everything go as expected, that we start welcoming students back to the sixth form in September 2023. Given the continuing uncertainty around COVID-19 etc, we have asked Trustees to allow us to pause admissions for a maximum of three years just to cover all eventualities.
We appreciate that for some of our Year 10s and 11s that this news will be disappointing, and we will do all that we can to support them to explore other post-16 options. While this was a difficult decision for that reason, this really is a necessary step to help us enhance all elements of the school. We have a long term commitment to HGHS.
HGHS is a community, and it is important that we work in partnership and collaboration. So, please do share your thoughts by clicking on our feedback survey below.
This consultation runs from 9am on Monday 9th November to 4pm on Friday 18th December.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many Year 11s are intending to stay next year?
The sixth form has the capacity to take 100 new students every year. Traditionally, it has never welcomed more the 50 students, but this has dropped further over recent years. In September 2020, for example, it was just over 20. Following a survey with all Year 11s at the end of the last half-term, around 40 students put HGHS down as their first choice sixth form. While there were a relatively small number of others who put it down as second or third choice, it was clear from conversations that our sixth form was very much a reserve option for them. Based on data from the last decade, this level of interest at this stage would typically mean a final intake of fewer than 30. We do, however, appreciate that students change their mind. What we would say is that if any student is rethinking their options, then please talk to us.
What are the closing dates for applications for other sixth form provisions?
We have spoken to all other local sixth form providers, and closing dates for applications are at the end of the month at the earliest. They have said, however, that they understand the circumstances that HGHS students are in, and they would look to support our students in any way they can.
Can HGHS students simply move to the sixth form at Cheadle Hulme High School?
If a student meets the grades to get into Cheadle Hulme Sixth Form, then they would be welcomed to go there. We would do all that we could to support that move in line with the applications process.
What is the scale of the proposed change to the sixth form?
The changes that we believe will need to made are significant, and are much more than just changing the cosmetics of the building. To evolve the curriculum, so that we are in a position to offer a much broader range of subjects and options, we also need to redevelop the classrooms so that we can provide specialist learning spaces, such as advanced science labs. We would also look to enhance the social areas, and have plans for a dedicated canteen. We can’t run a sixth form offer alongside making such significant changes to the sixth forms offer and infrastructure – which will be a six figure investment in the future of the school.
Can you defer the decision to halt recruitment to the sixth form for another year?
This is something that we have considered at length. The reality is that a school is funded for each pupil. So, for example, if we had only 100 children going into Year 7, then we would get the funding for only 100 students even if we had capacity for 200 pupils. It is the same at sixth form. If the number of applications we expect for sixth form places in 2021 play out as has been indicated, we would be running a 200 place sixth form for a total of around 50 students. This is simply not viable, and the longer term implications of that could limit the trust’s ability to be able to invest in the sixth form moving forward.