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City could have new sixth form centre
SALISBURY could have a new sixth form college if a bid for government funding is successful.
Currently 750 teenagers travel more than 50 miles a day for post-16 education due to a shortage of provision in the city.
A group of parents has now formed a Free School group and will submit an application to the Department of Education which could pave the way for a sixth form to open in 2014.
Discussions are underway to find a site for the new school but it is hoped it will be in the east of the city.
The plan has backing from headteachers at the three Laverstock secondary schools, Salisbury MP John Glen and the New School’s Network, which will help the group develop its bid before it is submitted in December.
The new school would be a welcome relief for the hundreds of students who currently spend up to two-and-half hours each day travelling to colleges in Brockenhurst, Totton, Andover and Winchester.
“Students are frustrated by the lack of choice and we need to do something to bridge the gap,” said Neil Owen, whose daughter could be one of the first to attend the new sixth form.
“They are spending all that time travelling when they could be studying.”
Salisbury Sixth Form College would put an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects, although students would also be able to take A-levels in English, languages and humanities.
Links could be made with Wiltshire College to allow a broader curriculum.
It is hoped the sixth form will open with 200 students, increasing to 400 in its second year and 500 eventually.
“This will be a school environment - at 16 students still need pastoral care,” said Mr Owen.
“It might be that students wear smart clothing rather than a uniform but it will still be a school.
“The emphasis the college will put on STEM subjects means our sons and daughters will be able to aspire to opportunities at university and in training that will eventually provide them with security in the job market.” Groups across the country are working to set up free schools to suit particular educational, religious or social needs.
Salisbury’s group will find out next May if it has been successful in its funding bid.
A headteacher will be appointed to oversee the project and recruit staff.
Group member Sharon McKinley added: “Our application has already passed several hurdles and we are confident of its success.”
An information evening abo is being held at Salisbury Guildhall on Wednesday, November 14 at 6.30pm. Parents and students, particularly those in years 9 and 10, are welcome to attend.