Council calls for urgent rethink on closure of sixth form provision at Louth Academy

EAST Lindsey District Council has called for an urgent rethink on the announcement by the Tollbar Academy that it will be closing all sixth form provision at Louth Academy at the end of the academic term.

In a letter to the Academy's Chief Executive, the District Council's Portfolio Holder for Market Towns and Rural Economy, Councillor Adam Grist, raised his concerns about the impact the decision would have on the education of young people in the District and the wider economy of the area.

The letter reads:

I write to register my sincere regret and concern in response to the recent announcement that you are closing all six form provision at the Louth Academy from September 2018.  The withdrawal of six form facilities will have a direct and negative impact on the life-chances of local children and  I firmly believe that the decision to cease providing both vocational and academic qualifications through a six form at Louth Academy will:

  1. Close a local pathway into higher/further education and continuity of provision for local students;

  2. Impact negatively on the flow of local students into employment opportunities, potentially leaving local businesses with skills deficits (particularly in vocational areas) and limiting the employment opportunities for local students; and;

  3. Impact on the provision of pastoral care to students at a critical time in their development.

 Although I acknowledge there is a move to centralise sixth form provision on specialist sites, I have grave concerns around the practicality and affordability of this for students in Louth and the surrounding area given the cost of transport and study time lost to travel. This will undoubtedly act as a deterrent to fully engage with 16+ learning and will therefore potentially adversely prevent children from realising their full potential.

I would be interested to learn what transitional arrangements you will be implementing to support students that will no longer have access to locally provided vocational and academic courses?  What support mechanisms have you put in place to support both pupils and parents through this decision? Furthermore, I  would also ask you to confirm what support arrangements are in place for any staff at risk of redundancy through the announced closure? I would also urge you to work more effectively with local partners in advance of any future restructuring proposals, so that we are better placed to understand and communicate the potential impact on our communities. 

 I note that your academy website is still actively promoting Louth Academy's six form provision and student admissions? I assume that this an oversight  but it is clearly leading to uncertainty and confusion in the local community. Moreover, there seems to have been very little consultation in relation to these proposals, which subsequently demonstrates a very poor disregard for the needs and futures of local students. It is also regrettable that this decision has been made at precisely the time when Year 11 pupils are preparing for their GCSE examinations; this new uncertainty around their future schooling is hardly conducive to helping them prepare for such a critical few weeks in their educational life.

 At East Lindsey District Council, we continue to maintain our strategic commitment to supporting a vibrant local economy across our District that provides access to skilled employment opportunities.  We have recently released an Economic Action Plan to help support local businesses and boost the local economy. It is disappointing that these efforts are potentially undermined by this retrograde decision.