Plan for a sixth-form revolution

PUBLISHED: 10:47 11 September 2008 | UPDATED: 21:14 05 July 2010

A revolution in post-16 education for Lowestoft and Waveney has been signalled with the launch of ambitious proposals to build a £28m sixth-form college.

A revolution in post-16 education for Lowestoft and Waveney has been signalled with the launch of ambitious proposals to build a £28m sixth-form college.

A new partnership has tabled plans to develop a state-of-the art centre next to Lowestoft College, which has also embarked on a £50m redevelopment of its campus.

The new centre will cater for up to 1,000 students and signal the closure of sixth-forms at the town's three high schools as part of Suffolk County Council's reorganisation of education in the area.

Backers of a single sixth-form college say students will be given a greater choice of education, with the ability to combine traditional A-levels and vocational courses at one site in the town.

The proposal was submitted by the newly-formed Lowestoft Learning Trust as part of a competition organised by the Learning and Skills Council (LCS) Suffolk.

Judith Mobbs, area director for the LSC Suffolk, said: “Lowestoft has some of the most deprived wards in the country and, because of this, local people face many challenges relating to education and training.

“We launched the competition to directly address these issues; to provide good quality education provision for young people and to meet the needs of local employers.”

The Lowestoft Learning Trust, made up of a number of partners including Suffolk County Council, the three Lowestoft high schools (Benjamin Britten, the Denes and Kirkley), Lowestoft College and Adnams brewery, was the only entrant in the competition.

However, the bid will still have to go through a public consultation period until October 24 before the LSC Regional Board decides whether to give it the go-ahead in early December.

If approved, the applicant will be able to apply to the LSC for funding, with a view to opening the new centre by the autumn of 2011. It would be sited off Rotterdam Road, near the Water Lane sports centre.

Sally Simpkins, area director for children and young people's services at Suffolk County Council, said: “This innovative partnership will transform post-16 learning opportunities in Lowestoft, providing increased opportunities for learners to study in brand new, state-of-the-art facilities and will contribute significantly to local regeneration.”

Teresa Miller, vice-principal for finance and resources at Lowestoft College, which is also a partner of University Campus Suffolk, said: “The college is currently preparing a detailed redevelopment plan for its campus, which will provide new premises for all academic disciplines.”

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) has been highly critical of the county council's schools' reorganisation plans, which will also see middle schools abolished.

Details of how many staff the new centre will need have yet to be revealed, but Peter Byatt, of the Lowestoft branch of the National Union of Teachers, said he was pleased the new sixth-form centre partnership involved the existing high schools.

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