County council ‘issues warning notice’ over plan to split up Dereham Sixth Form College

The plan to split Dereham Sixth Form College provoked protests from students. Picture: Ian Burt

The plan to split Dereham Sixth Form College provoked protests from students. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

A controversial plan to split Dereham Sixth Form College could be scuppered after Norfolk County Council said it had issued a formal warning notice to the high school behind it.

The college is run as a partnership between the town's two high schools, Neatherd and Northgate, but in February Neatherd announced it would set up its own, separate sixth form.

The council said it issued a formal warning notice to Neatherd yesterday – a first for a school rated 'good' by Ofsted – and will write to parents today.

However, headteacher Peter Devonish said while he received a letter setting out the council's concerns,

which he contested, he had not received a warning notice.

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The council said Neatherd had 10 working days to comply, and current Year 11 pupils who applied to the proposed Neatherd Sixth Form will automatically be able to attend Dereham Sixth Form College instead, and take their prior choice of courses.

If a school does not comply with a warning notice, the council may be able to take control of its finances and replace its governors with an interim executive board.

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James Joyce, chairman of Norfolk County Council's children's services committee, said two smaller sixth forms were unlikely to be able to offer the same variety of subjects as the current joint institution, because of funding and staffing issues.

He said the Education Funding Agency, which funds post-16 education, and the regional schools commissioner, shared the council's concerns.

Mr Devonish said neither had raised concerns with him, and added: 'Our plans are very robust. We have some very happy students wanting to start, and a fully costed plan that's fine.'

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