Neatherd High School announces it is to split from Northgate High School and Dereham Sixth Form College

Peter Devonish, headteacher of Dereham Neatherd High School

Peter Devonish, headteacher of Dereham Neatherd High School - Credit: Archant

A high school has announced it will form its own sixth form on the site of a current college which it runs in partnership.

Dereham Neatherd High School's governors have decided to establish its own facility on the current Dereham Sixth Form College (DSFC) site from September, leaving its partnership with Dereham Northgate High School.

The two schools had shared the running of DSFC since 1977 and the teaching staff is currently split between the two schools.

Neatherd headteacher Peter Devonish said the move would not affect current year 13 students and that everything would be done to make the transition straightforward for pupils.

He said: 'This was a decision which was not taken lightly in any shape or form.

'It has been a relationship which has lasted for 40 years and until recent times had worked very effectively.'

He said progress over the last few years at the college had not be as good as he and his governors had hoped which led to the decision being made.

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He added: 'We believe the move will provide the young people of Dereham and the surrounding area with a top quality sixth form provision, drawing on the strengths of Neatherd.'

The bulk of the teaching will take place at the DSFC site but some specialist facilities at the Neatherd High School site will also be used.

Pupils from schools other than Neatherd will be able to apply.

Neatherd has recently applied to become a multi-academy trust with other schools in the area.

In a letter to students and parents, seen by the EDP, DSFC director Phyllis O'Grady said herself and Northgate headteacher Glyn Hambling and Northgate governors had only been told of the decision at a meeting on Tuesday.

The letter states: 'We are concerned at the manner in which this decision has been taken and communicated and the speed at which such an enormous change is intended to be implemented.

'The headteacher and the governors of Northgate and myself cannot agree with Mr Devonish and his governors that this will cause 'minimal disruption' and are very concerned the current students may be extremely unsettled by this development.'

Northgate High School headteacher Glyn Hambling has said he is committed to maintaining DSFC. He said: 'I am immensely saddened to hear the decision of Neatherd High School's governors and its headteacher.

'It is a partnership which has been in existence since 1977 and has benefited thousands of students from the greater Dereham area and surrounding mid Norfolk.

'We are absolutely committed to maintaining Dereham Sixth Form College at that site as close as we can make it to its current form.

'I am very proud of the young people and extremely proud of the staff there and I am aware that the community is equally as proud as I am of the college.'

The DSFC site is leased to the Dereham schools by Norfolk County Council. A NCC spokesman said: 'The County Council has been informed today by the head teacher of Neatherd High School of this intention and we're considering the implications.

'Our view is that Dereham Sixth Form College generally provides a good education for its learners with a small number of subjects in need of specific improvement.'

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