Sixth form partnership in north Derbyshire to close due to cash crisis and low student numbers

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A recently-launched sixth form partnership aimed at improving post-16 education for young people in economically-challenged parts of north Derbyshire is to close due to a shortage of student numbers.

The Aspire Sixth Form was launched in September 2014 as part of a bid to improve education opportunities for young people in Shirebrook, Bolsover, Clowne, Stavely and Chesterfield.

But in a letter sent out to parents, the partnership has stated that a decision has now been taken to close Aspire due to financial constraints and low student numbers.

Students currently in the first year of post-16 education at the partnership, which operates out of the Bolsover School, Chesterfield College, Heritage High School in Clowne, Landmarks Specialist College in Eckington, Shirebrook Academy, and Springwell Community College in Staveley, will be able to complete their studies.

But students currently in Year 11 who have applied for a place at the sixth form will be forced to look for alternative arrangements, the letter states.

Chesterfield College is on hand to provide advice and guidance and have a dedicated a member of staff to deal with application enquiries.

The partnership currently offers a range of study programmes, from traditional A Levels to vocational and work-related programmes.

The letter states: “We haven’t taken this decision lightly and would like to reassure you that we have explored all possible avenues to keep the provision going for those who have expressed an interest in studying with us.

“The schools within the partnership are unable to continue to afford to provide the teaching staff required for the small classes who attend Aspire. This will impact on our ability to give our students the very best if we allow it to continue, so with that in mind it is necessary to close the provision.

“We understand that this will be disappointing news to you, as it is to us.”

Shirebrook Academy Principal Mark cottingham said: “When the partnership was launched we expected numbers to be low initially but we hoped that they would grow more quickly than they have, so we still only have around 50 students enrolled in post-16 study.

“With subjects like A Level physics we may have classes as small as two or three students. We were willing to run it at a loss for a while because it is a much needed provision, but we’re now having to put £100,000 a year into it and unfortunately we are just not getting the numbers.It really is a great shame.”

Pictured: Shirebrook Academy.

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