Governors at Dereham Neatherd High School have no immediate plans to revisit second sixth form proposals

A flashback to last year when students protested over plans to open a second sixth form college in D

A flashback to last year when students protested over plans to open a second sixth form college in Dereham. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

Dereham Neatherd High School's governors have no immediate plans to revisit proposals to establish a second sixth form college in the town, but the move has not been ruled out in the longer term.

Neatherd governor David Allen dismissed claims that the school is looking to use its potential move to Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) status to simply bypass the control of Norfolk County Council - which has previously halted the second sixth form plan.

Meanwhile, Glyn Hambling, the head of Northgate High School, which is now running Dereham Sixth Form College, said the college is in a strong postilion moving forward and has expressed his excitement about its future.

Neatherd and Northgate are both pursuing separate proposals to set up MATs.

MATs are groups of independent schools funded by central government, which are independent of the local authority.

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Mr Allen said: 'Becoming a Multi Academy Trust does not simply open the door to do anything and bypass any control, and we would need to go through a consultation process with the regional schools commissioner (Tim Coulson).

'At the moment the focus is on getting the MAT established.'

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We have previously reported how proposals were put forward by Neatherd High School last February to open a second sixth form college in Dereham.

This would have seen the end of a 39-year partnership between Dereham's two high schools, Neatherd and Northgate.

The proposals polarised opinions in the town and were quashed by Norfolk County Council.

The council then revised its position and invited Neatherd's governors to put together an 'appropriately robust' business case and financial plan.

Mr Allen said: 'No decision has yet been made on post 16 provision.

'The governing board will review the situation and look at what's going on in the wider educational landscape before we come to a decision on that.'

A consultation on Neatherd's MAT proposals finished on Wednesday.

March 1 has been set as a provisional date for Neatherd High School becoming a MAT.

It has not yet formed any official partnerships with other schools to become part of the MAT.

Northgate High School is looking to form a MAT together with Dereham Sixth Form College, Garverstone Primary School, Beeston Primary, Grove House Infant School and Kings Park Infant School, both in Dereham.

Mr Allen said: 'We believe that Dereham has always been in the healthy position of having two very good separate high schools.

'That means that both schools are working hard, and keep each other on their toes, and parents and pupils are given more choice.' He added: 'For us the benefits of becoming a MAT are around the school being in a position to manage its own affairs, opening doors for schools to work corroboratively and it allows us to keep focus on improving outcomes for children.'

Needs cross ref

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