Petition is launched over Dereham Sixth Form College split

Dereham Sixth Form College has been run by the two schools since 1977. Picture: Ian Burt

Dereham Sixth Form College has been run by the two schools since 1977. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

A sixth-form director has revealed she quit after a breakdown in the 40-year partnership between two high schools over the running of the college.

Peter Devonish, headteacher of Dereham Neatherd High School

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

Dereham Neatherd High School has announced it will split from the town's Northgate High School to form its own sixth form.

The schools have run Dereham Sixth Form College (DSFC) since 1977, but from September that is set to change.

By last night a petition against the split, which was started by DSFC students, had been signed by 600 people.

DSFC director Phyllis O'Grady has revealed she handed in her resignation and will take up a role with Northgate from September to help smooth the transition.

Northgate High School.

Northgate High School. - Credit: Matthew Usher

In a letter to students and parents, Ms O'Grady said she and Northgate headteacher Glyn Hambling and Northgate governors had only been told of the decision 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 [headteacher of Neatherd] and his governors that this will cause 'minimal disruption' and are very concerned the current students may be extremely unsettled by this development. Since both schools have a right to use the buildings we will have a potentially ludicrous situation of Neatherd and Dereham Sixth Form students being taught separately in the same building.'

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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.

'There were issues around the joined collaborative approach, things were not done as quickly or as well as they might have been.'

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.'

What do you think of the decision? Email doug.faulkner@archant.co.uk

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