Opposition to Hartlepool school’s sixth form expansion plans

Dyke House headteacher Andrew Jordon
Dyke House headteacher Andrew Jordon

Education chiefs are divided over plans by a Hartlepool school to open its sixth form to students from across town amid fears it could harm existing colleges.

Dyke House Sports and Technology College opened its sixth form to its own students in 2014, and is now consulting on plans to expand its provision to take in students from other schools.

High Tunstall headteacher Mark Tilling

High Tunstall headteacher Mark Tilling

But there are fears among members of Hartlepool council’s Children’s Services Committee that it could undermine Hartlepool Sixth Form College and the sixth form at English Martyrs school.

Mark Patton, the council’s Assistant Director (Education, Learning and Skills 0-19), said: “My second concern is around the recent post 16 area review of the Tees Valley which made it very clear that small sixth form provisions were not cost effective and often didn’t have a broad enough curriculum offer for the youngsters to enable them to make good choices for themselves and their future career paths.”

The council is gathering information around impact the Dyke House proposal may have on student numbers and the finances of other sixth forms in town.

Mr Patton added: “The indications are that both of those things would have a detrimental effect on the existing institutions.”

I think there is a danger of other sixth forms in town becoming financially unviable

Mark Tilling, High Tunstall College of Science headteacher

High Tunstall College of Science headteacher Mark Tilling questioned expanding sixth form provision in town when he said there was 200-300 fewer students a year entering Key Stage 4 (14-16 years).

He said: “At this time I could not hand on hand recommend a sixth form that does not publish its results to my students.

“I think there is a danger of other sixth forms in town becoming financially unviable.”

Members of the committee are due to meet early in the New Year to decide their official response.

Chair Councillor Alan Clark said: “I personally don’t think I could support the development of a new sixth form at Dyke House college until they at least release their GCSE results for scrutiny.”

Andrew Jordon, executive principal at Dyke House Sports and Technology College, said: “Following discussions with the Education Funding Agency we have been given the go-ahead to consult on widening our sixth form provision for the 2018/2019 academic year.

“This would allow students from other institutions to join Dyke House sixth form providing there is an appropriate course of study and capacity for them.

“We are in the process of conducting a wide-ranging external consultation by inviting comments from all our stakeholders, including secondary and primary headteachers, other sixth form providers and the local authority.”

The consultation closes on January 18.

Dyke House said its exam results are published on the academy’s website in line with statutory guidance once they are validated in the January following the summer exams.