Council reveals opposition to plan to split Dereham Sixth Form College

Dereham Sixth Form students protesting. Picture: Ian Burt

Dereham Sixth Form students protesting. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

Norfolk County Council has revealed its opposition to plans to split Dereham Sixth Form in two.

The sixth form has been run as a partnership between the town's high schools, Northgate and Neatherd, since 1977, but last month Neatherd announced plans to set up its own sixth form.

During an urgent item at yesterday's Children's Services Committee, Michael Rosen, the council's executive director for children's services, said, for the first time: 'We would like to see one sixth form in Dereham.'

His comments were echoed by committee chairman James Joyce, who said: 'We really do support there being one sixth form in Dereham.'

Other councillors raised concerns about the proposals, with Paul Gilmour saying that, at a time when many schools are having problems recruiting maths and science teachers, in particular, the proposed split 'does not seem to make sense'.

Gordon Boyd, assistant director of education, said it was for the relevant governing bodies to 'demonstrate how things are not going to be worse because of the plans, and in fact will be better'.

Peter Devonish, headteacher of Neatherd, who was not at the meeting, said: 'I'm hugely disappointed to hear some of the negative, uninformed comments we are hearing out there. People need to speak to us and hear how fantastic it feels inside the school.'

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Lucy Spinks, 17, of the Student Voice campaign of Dereham students who are against the split, said: 'I think where there are concerns being raised by councillors who know what they are doing, I think those concerns should be listened to.

'When you have got people saying 'hang on a minute, something's not right', I think it should be listened to.'

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