PARENTS in Salisbury and the surrounding area have welcomed plans to open a new sixth form in the city.

A group of parents, teachers and governors, with additional support from the Laverstock secondary schools, are submitting an application to the Department of Education for a college with specialism in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

If approved by the Government, the Salisbury Sixth Form College will open in September 2014, and accept 200 students in its first year.

Currently about 750 young people travel out of Salisbury on a daily basis to access post-16 education, with some students travelling up to 56 miles a day.

Paul Edwards, a pilot at Boscombe Down and member of the working group, said: "We have waited for years for recognition of the shortfall in sixth form places in Salisbury and we now have a unique opportunity to add to the current provision.”

At an information evening held in the Guildhall yesterday, there was standing room only as people gathered to find out more about the proposals and give their support by registering interest in sending their child to the college.

Ivor Welfare, whose son could be one of the first to attend the new Salisbury Sixth Form College, said: “My son is very much into science and very keen to stay on in education.

“At the moment we are looking at the options – the fact that he could be in Salisbury is brilliant.”

Alec Banks said: “I’m really keen for this to be in Salisbury.

“I’m a scientist by trade and we really struggle to recruit into the science and engineering areas. “You also often find that people tend to come back to where they grew up, so for science and technology to develop in the Salisbury area we need to develop those skills.”

And Elizabeth Clark from Downton added: “This is exactly what Salisbury needs.

“The current provision for our youngsters is not adequate.”

MP John Glen, who also attended the meeting last night, said he “applauded the excellent work” already undertaken to develop the college plans and “looked forward to working closely” with the sixth form group in the months ahead.

For more information or to register support for the college visit The bid, which comes under the free school initiative, is separate to plans for a new University Technical College in the city, which aims to give children, aged 14 to 18, who are interested in science and engineering careers, a range of GCSEs and A-level options.