Students ‘worried for future’ following proposed closure of Sheffield sixth form

Bradfield School
Bradfield School

What impact will the closure of the sixth form at Bradfield School have on my education, and my future?

That is just one of the many questions the Year 12 pupils are asking both governors and leadership teams, after the secondary school near Worrall set out proposals to close its sixth form last month.

Eleanor, aged 16, who is currently studying her A-Levels at Bradfield School, said the proposed closure is causing herself and her fellow students to worry for their future.

She said: “I feel very anxious and let down by both the governors and the senior leadership team at Bradfield School.

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“In my opinion, I think the news about the proposed closure of the sixth form could have been delivered to the students in a much better manner than it was, as there was no reassurance or definite answers to any of the questions of which I addressed to the headteacher.

“I am worried about my future at Bradfield, and cannot properly concentrate on the most important task of which I attend the school for - to achieve my A-Levels! I am also concerned about the possible prospect of moving to another sixth form.

“There has been a lack of communication to the current Year 12 from the senior leadership team, and rumours of possible staff redundancies or them leaving have made us all feel uneasy about what the future holds for our second year at the sixth form.”

If approved by the Government the move – which has been blamed on a lack of funding and failure to recruit enough students –  would see the 73 students presently in Year 12  carry on into Year 13 and continue their studies as planned. 

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However, no Year 11 students would go on to study their A-Levels at Bradfield.

Instead, under an arrangement that has been secured for those who meet entry requirements, current students would be guaranteed a sixth form place at the Tapton or Forge Valley Schools in Crosspool and Stannington.

Bradfield was deemed to require improvement by Ofsted at their last inspection in 2017, and governors say the school has overspent bringing about a recovery in standards.

They added that it is likely to end the current academic year deep in the red with a budget deficit of more than £800,000.

Arguing that Bradfield is among the bottom 50 worst funded schools in England, governors had expected income to be boosted by around £600,000 per year with the introduction of the Government’s National Funding Formula – however, the timetable for the formula’s implementation has been pushed back. 

Reducing the size of the school’s leadership team, and making savings from the workforce, are also proposed by the governors and headteacher Dr Ian Gilbert to cut costs.

The average number of students enrolled in sixth form at Bradfield has stood at 147 since 2014, when guidance by educational experts suggests that facilities with fewer than 300 students struggle to be viable.

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Eleanor, who commutes by school bus from Stannington, added: “We feel the impending closure would have an impact on our education as the school is unable to guarantee that the current specialist A-Level teachers would still be employed at Bradfield School until the end of Year 13 in 2020.

“One of the main reasons I chose to attend the sixth form at Bradfield School initially was because of the teachers that teach the subjects that I have chosen to study at A-Level, as I was aware that in previous years they had achieved excellent pass rates.

“If our teachers were to leave, would we be still receiving the best specialist education that we originally signed up for? We are worried about being put at a disadvantage compared to other A-Level students around the country, and do not feel the proposed closure is fair on us or the teachers at Bradfield.”

he consultation period on the future of Bradfield sixth form is due to close on February 26, with a governing body meeting planned for March.