A SCHOOL has announced plans to close its sixth form after just 14 students signed up for the new term.

Polam Hall School, on Grange Road in Darlington, is to consider plans to close its sixth form once its current cohort of students have finished their studies.

In a letter sent to parents, the school's principal Kate Reid said they had to consider whether having a sixth form was still "financially viable".

Last night, Darlington MP Jenny Chapman said the decision was "very good news" and the "right decision for the young people in Darlington".

The school, which was established in 1848, has begun a formal four-week consultation period with stakeholders, including parents, pupils, Darlington Borough Council, and other schools in the borough.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Ms Reid, who joined the school in September 2017, said in her letter: “Many of you may be aware that we have struggled with recruitment to sixth form over a number of years, and the time has come for us to consider whether Polam Hall should retain a sixth form or close this provision once the current cohort of sixth form students have completed their studies.”

“We recognise the value of having a sixth form, but it has to be financially viable, and not detract resources from other areas of the school.

“Our ambition would be to provide outstanding education provision from age four to age 16 and to prepare our students well for their next steps beyond Polam Hall School.”

Ms Chapman said the decision would help the school focus on its primary and secondary education, which it currently has a waiting list for.

"It is very good news and the right decision for the young people in Darlington.

"There are some first rate sixth forms and colleges in Darlington, including Queen Elizabeth which is one of the best in the country, and Darlington College.

"It will mean the school can put its resources and focus into educating four to 16-year-olds.

"It is not always right that a school has to do absolutely everything, it is not necessarily in the best interest of the child."

Earlier this year, Ofsted inspectors concluded that the school required improvement following a period of "significant turbulence” but acknowledged that leaders were now “improving provision at a rapid rate”.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Clare Curran, chair of Polam Hall’s Academy Council, said: “It is with sadness that we are proposing to take this step, but we have to concentrate our resources where the need is greatest, and the value can be maximised.

“Darlington is exceptionally well-served for sixth form provision and we believe it makes sense to focus our attention on providing an outstanding education for the other age groups in our care.”

The views of all stakeholders are being welcomed and a consultation meeting to discuss the plan has been arranged for October 9 at 6pm.

Paul Kennedy, Woodward Academies Trust Chief Education Officer, will attend to share the views of trustees and answer questions.