Dereham Sixth Form split could still go ahead

Norfolk County Council assistant director of children services Gordon Boyd. Photo: Steve Adams

Norfolk County Council assistant director of children services Gordon Boyd. Photo: Steve Adams - Credit: Archant

Proposals to break up Dereham Sixth Form College could be back on the table.

The move to split the college, which has been run as a partnership between the town's two high schools, Neatherd and Northgate, since 1977, has polarised opinions since it was announced in February.

But the proposals, which came from Neatherd High School, were recently quashed by Norfolk County Council.

The authority gave Neatherd a warning notice to halt its plans and announced it would remove the school's governors with an interim executive board.

But it emerged yesterday that council has revised its position and invited Neatherd's governors to put together an 'appropriately robust' business case and financial plan by September 30 and then carry out a public consultation.

Gordon Boyd, Norfolk County Council's assistant director for education, said: 'We intervened quickly in Dereham Neatherd High School because a case hadn't been made that a separate sixth form opening in September was financially viable or sustainable, and we were gravely concerned the proposals threatened the quality of educational provision in the area, and the interests of young people.

'Our intervention has put these plans on hold and protected the interests of young people and families.

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'We know Dereham Sixth Form College, under the leadership of Northgate High School, is offering a broad range of quality learning in a sustainable way. There is also an appetite locally for further conversation, and it's important the community has its say on the shape of future education provision.'

Alan Jones, chairman of the governors at Northgate High School, said: 'Everybody involved in the college is rightly proud of its success.

'Northgate and Dereham Sixth Form College are determined to continue to build on that success whatever the eventual outcome of Neatherd's proposals.'

Gill Spillman, chairman of governors at Neatherd High School, said she did not want to comment at this stage.