Sixth form closure could allow Trinity Catholic School to fulfill longer-term goals says principal

editorial image

Trinity Catholic School in Leamington would be accepting ‘‘short term pain to make long term gains’’ if it closes its sixth form temporarily.

This is the view of principal Chris Gabbett, who spoke to The Courier after the consultation into the proposal by the school’s governors to remove the sixth form was launched last Friday.

The governors, having met the trustees of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham, have said that several factors including ‘‘years of creeping austerity measures’’, the withdrawal of the discretionary bus subsidy causing a reduction in student numbers and a reduction of central government funding, have contributed to the “unfortunate position”.

But despite the staff redundancies the closure will cause and the effect it will have on the school’s current Year 11 pupils, Mr Gabbett is in agreement with the governors that the temporary measure - which would mean that the sixth form closes at the end of the 2018 school year - would ensure Trinity maintains the strong level of education it provides for Key Stage 3-4 pupils and that it is in a better position to re-
establish A-Level studies at the school as soon as is financially possible.

Mr Gabbett said: “Standards have not been a problem for us, it’s just the numbers.

“The reduction in Key Stage 5 funding has been significant, like with a lot of other schools, and the most recent statistic is that one-in- eight sixth forms across the country are closing.

“But the Catholic Church has been educating children since the year 200 and this is just a small blip in that.

“I would like that the Year 7 pupils who start at this school in September would have a sixth form provision on this site in five years.”

Mr Gabbett said his long-term vision for Trinity is that it would eventually provide an education for pupils and students aged from four to 18.

He said: “Schools nationally are having to band together to be strong and I can see Trinity as being part of that but right now have to have short-term pain for long-term gain.

“There is a diocesan-wide multi-academy company strategy at the minute that was presented by the Birmingham Diocese last July.

“We consider that to be a multi-phase, multi-school, strategy of improvement which we’ve bought in to.

“The partner primaries of this school were formulated about two years ago and the premise there is for us to support each other and provide a critical friendship with each other to support each other’s ethos.”

Mr Gabbett does not believe that a lack of sixth form provision will make Trinity a less attractive proposition for the parents of prospective pupils. He said: “The temporary closure would allow an outstanding and adequately funded Key Stage Three and Four.

“As much as parents might, at first glance, want somewhere where there is A-Level provision we’re in a situation where 50 or 60 per cent of pupils actually choose college or other sixth form providers.

“Parents are more interested in transferring their children into a positive ethos from Key Stage Two to Three first than what they will do when they move on from Key Stage Four to Five.”

An online petition, signed by more than 1,000 people, has been set up on the Change.Org website by Oliver Webb who wants the closure to be postponed so he and his fellow Year 11 pupils can sit A-Level exams at the school in 2019.

Mr Gabbett said “it puts across a decent point”.

For consultation details visit http://www.trinity-school.org.uk