‘Why I’m against Dereham Sixth Form College split’

Former student Heidi Jackson explains why she's against the sixth form splitting. Photo: Steve Adams

Former student Heidi Jackson explains why she's against the sixth form splitting. Photo: Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

A campaign to save a sixth form has hit 1,000 signatures as a community is still coming to terms with the news that a nearly 40 year old education partnership has crumbled.

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

The news Dereham Neatherd High School will end its partnership with Dereham Northgate High School to run Dereham Sixth Form College (DSFC) has shocked students, staff and parents.

Students at the college have taken to the internet to campaign against the changes by launching a petition and making their feelings known on social media site Twitter by using the hashtag #savingdsfc.

They have also tweeted a number of celebrities and politicians including Republican candidate Donald Trump, UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, footballer Lionel Messi and actor Chris Rankin, who played Percy Weasley in the Harry Potter films.

Mr Rankin, who comes from the area, tweeted he was appalled by the move.

Chris Smith, deputy headteacher at Neatherd, said: 'The decision we have made was never going to be easy, and it is inevitable that students in particular would feel unsettled by the announcement, whenever it had been made.

'For the past two years, the average 'A' level grade achieved by the current Sixth Form College has been lower than a 'C'. We believe that this is unacceptable, and that the young people of Dereham deserve better.'

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Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman, who visited Dereham Neatherd recently, is taking a close interest and has said he will be contacting both schools to make sure arrangements work for local students.

Northgate High School headteacher Glyn Hambling said: 'Clearly this is an upsetting time for pupils, staff and their families and we will be providing opportunities for regular dialogue, questions and answers, in our drive to successfully maintain Dereham Sixth Form at the Dereham Sixth Form centre as per mine and the governing body of Northgate High School's proposals and wishes.

'The reaction of those closely linked with Dereham Sixth Form College demonstrates how well loved the sixth form is to our schools, the greater Dereham area and mid Norfolk community.'

A headline on yesterday's story suggested that DSFC director Phyllis O'Grady had resigned over Neatherd's decision to leave the partnership.

Have you been affected by the decision? Write to doug.faulkner@archant.co.uk

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