Fury over decision to scrap A-Levels at Sheffield College campus

The Peaks campus, Waterthorpe
The Peaks campus, Waterthorpe
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Sheffield MP Clive Betts has said he is 'absolutely furious' at Sheffield College's decision to scrap A-Levels at one of its campuses.

Mr Betts said the first he heard about the decision to stop running A-Level courses at the Peaks campus, Waterthorpe, from September, was in an email from college principal, Heather Smith, on Tuesday.

She said the college is 'consolidating and building' its A-Level provision in the north of the city and will run the courses from its Hillsborough campus from the start of the new school year.

Students currently enrolled on A-Level courses at the Peaks campus will remain there.

In her email she said: "The college is consolidating and building its A-Level programme in the north of the city at Hillsborough campus, which already has a well established reputation for A Levels and a strong offer.

"A-Levels will not be on offer at Peaks campus to new applicants from September 2016. All of the 55 current students at Peaks campus, who have already started their A-Levels, will finish them at Peaks. We have written to those students today to reassure them of that.

"We have also written to new applicants today, who have accepted an A-Level offer at Peaks from September 2016, to provide them with an identical subject offer at Hillsborough campus instead, which has good public transport links.

"Applicants who have accepted an A-Level offer at Peaks commencing September 2016, and want to relocate to Hillsborough campus, will receive a free travel pass from the college for the duration of their A-Level programme.

"All but one of the 10 A-Level course subjects currently offered at Peaks campus will continue at Hillsborough campus, with the exception of philosophy.

"We have briefed staff this afternoon on the changes. The college is committed to ensuring that Peaks campus continues to grow. Peaks campus has a strong vocational curriculum. All other courses at Peaks campus are unaffected and continuing as planned from September 2016."

But MP Clive Betts said: “I am absolutely furious about the failure to consult about the issue as well as the decision itself.

"How dare Sheffield College call itself ‘inclusive’ when it fails at the first hurdle to engage interested parties in an issue of significant education importance for the south-east of the city?

"It is absolutely disgraceful that it has taken the decision at this time and, therefore, has stymied the opportunity for ‘A’ level students, who had intended to go to the Peaks campus, to get places at other schools in Sheffield and in North East Derbyshire.

“It took many years of hard work to secure this ‘A’ level provision in the south-east of the city. But now, without consultation, local students will be forced to make lengthy journeys to Hillsborough to take their ‘A’ levels. The offer of a free travel pass simply does not begin to compensate.

“This is a bad decision, taken in a disgraceful fashion.

"What we have therefore is a situation in which Longley College, Hillsborough College and sixth forms in other parts of Sheffield provide A-Level provision for only three-quarters of the city. My constituents, and only my constituents, now face long and difficult journeys to reach colleges or schools providing A-Level courses.

"I have fought very hard over many years, as have the schools in the south-east, to secure local A-Level provision and have done everything possible to encourage young people in the constituency to stay on at school and take A-Levels, provision at Peaks being an agreed alternative to the local secondary schools each trying to establish their own sixth forms."