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Funding fears over new Lowestoft sixth-form centre

PUBLISHED: 08:00 12 September 2009 | UPDATED: 12:05 06 July 2010

Hayley Mace

Delays in government funding could mean that Lowestoft's new sixth form centre is not completed in time for teenagers to study there in 2011.

The £28m sixth form college, which will eventually house up to 1,000 students, has been designed to revolutionise post-16 education in the town.

Delays in government funding could mean that Lowestoft's new sixth form centre is not completed in time for teenagers to study there in 2011.

The £28m sixth form college, which will eventually house up to 1,000 students, has been designed to revolutionise post-16 education in the town.

It will replace the sixth forms at Lowestoft's three high schools as part of Suffolk County Council's shake-up of education in the town and is due to open in September 2011, when the town's middle schools are scrapped and high schools take pupils from ages 11-16 only.

Now concerns have been raised that the money for the development, which will be on the same site as Lowestoft College, could be delayed because the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) is limiting the amount of funding it releases each year.

A report which will be discussed by Suffolk County Council's cabinet on Tuesday said: “There is a risk that the new sixth form college building is unable to be completed by September 2011. This includes a risk that the LSC only releases funding from 2010 or 2011 onwards, which would affect the delivery programme for the project…There is a financial risk that either the LSC will now provide sufficient funding to construct the sixth form college or that construction costs rise above the available LSC grant.”

If the project is delayed, sixth form students would have to continue studying at the town's high schools until the building is ready.

Officers from the council, the developers and Lowestoft College are currently working together to minimise the risk of the project being delayed, but they are still waiting to find out exactly when the money will be made available.

Lowestoft College's own hopes for funding for a £50m redevelopment were dashed earlier this year when the LSC announced that it had run out of money for further education projects and would only fund 13 scaled-down schemes across the whole country.

The LSC is expected to make a decision on the funding application for the new sixth form college some time this autumn.

As the finishing touches are made to proposals for a high school in south Lowestoft, a headteacher is being sought for the new school.

The post of headteacher at the new Pakefield High School is now being advertised through Suffolk County Council, stating that the successful applicant will start in April 2010 and that the school is due to open in September 2011.

The school is proposed for the existing Pakefield Middle School site as part of the county council's schools reorganisation, which will see middle schools scrapped from 2011 and a two-tier system put in place across Lowestoft.

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