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More sixth formers expected to stay local

Created on 31/10/2020 @ 10:17
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The number of sixth formers studying in the area is expected to rise this year, councillors have been told.

The brain drain of losing more than 500 students to educational establishments in England, including Shrewsbury, and other Welsh counties, has been costing Powys County Council millions of pounds in recent years.

This is because Welsh Government funding for post-16 education follows the student and it will be given to the institution they are studying at.

Over the last decade Powys sixth form numbers have fallen dramatically, and reorganising the sector will be part of the schools transformation strategy,

At the Learning and Skills Scrutiny Committee the rise in numbers was discussed

Committee Chairman, Cllr Peter Roberts, said: “One of the problems has been the financial stability of sixth form provision. Do we have any indications that position is improving in terms of the numbers of pupils who have stayed in sixth forms this year?”

Education consultant, Geraint Rees, said: “The sixth form numbers have increased significantly in Year 12 this year.

“It’s not evenly spread across the authority, but all schools have reported growth.

“It will come through in terms of next years budget, they (Welsh Government) do fund over a period of time and that will be a benefit to us.”

Mr Rees warned the committee that it was “crucial” that the improved numbers is not seen as a reason not to reorganise the Post-16 education as part of the schools transformation agenda.

Mr Rees added: “We may have only gained them because of the Covid situation, there’s the reality of not wanting to travel on a bus every day to a far away institution.”

“It won’t last unless we make a progressive and significant change to the sixth form offer.”

Cllr Roberts asked if any research had been done to find out the reason behind the upsurge?

Cllr Roberts said: “Is it vote of confidence in Powys education or a vote of fear in travel?”

Mr Rees replied that research would be done, but other issues, such as school budgets and dealing with Covid-19 had been prioritised.

Mr Rees added: “They have also got to the point where those that were new and committed themselves in September have passed the point of no return.

“Some do start but by the end of September they’ve gone to a different institution.”

Since 2010 the sixth forms across the county have seen 33 per cent decline. falling from 1,445 to 978 in 2019.

This means that funding from the Welsh Government based on pupils numbers has dropped from £6.5 million to £4.4 million

It is estimated that up to 500 youngsters from Powys were leaving the county daily to continue their education in Shrewsbury, Hereford, Cheshire, Denbighshire, Neath Port Talbot, and elsewhere.

By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporting Service


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