Parents and teachers gathered at Carisbrooke College last night (Tuesday) to find out more from education officers about the current consultation on school places for 11-16 and post-16 Islanders.
The meeting, which last two and a half hours, was kicked off by leader of the Isle of Wight council and Executive member responsible for Education, Cllr Jonathan Bacon.
He openly admitted the error that had been made by officers compiling the statistics when they quoted that only 27% of A-Level pupils on the Island went onto university (the figure was actually 43%) and explained to parents that consultation documents were being reprinted to avoid any confusion.
He went on to say, as he has in several council meetings, his own daughter has been caught up in the school reorganisation implemented by the former council and that he completely understood parents’ frustrations and concerns.
Stressing the importance of finishing the job that was started by the previous council, he said,
“Do we stop here and say everything’s fine or do we say we’ve got unfinished business?”
Why more changes?
Felicity Roe, assistant Director for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, who is overseeing the whole process, took the audience through a detailed slideshow explaining what’s driving the consultation (improving standards and ensuring the tens of millions of pounds promised from the Dept for Education for new buildings is spent wisely), sharing statistics on GCSE results and showing where the spare capacity is within the school system now, and mapped ahead to 2024.
She talked through the options for 11-16 school places, explaining that if a merger between Medina and Carisbrooke took place, it would only be practical on the Carisbrooke site. The Medina site is not big enough to accommodate an 11 form entry (which is what’s needed for Newport alongside Christ the King College) and the Dept for Education had already promised tens of millions to rebuild/refurbish Carisbrooke College.
Perfect site for dedicated sixth form
It was said that if the merger did go ahead, the vacant Medina site would be perfect for a dedicated sixth form college (which would only be viable if the secondary schools dropped their sixth forms).
Suggestions later in the meeting the prime land was planned for sale to the highest bidder were strongly refuted by Cllr Bacon.
11-16 funding subsidising A-Levels
Children’s Services officer for post 16 education, Philip Walker, went on to talk about the situation with sixth forms and A-Levels.
As reported last week, the Isle of Wight does well for those taking post-16 vocational programmes, so little attention was focused on that.
Philip explained, however, that higher than average numbers of students were taking three years to complete their sixth form programmes.
This has resulted in A-level programmes at school sixth forms being subsidised by the 11-16 year old funding, as the school only receives full funding for two years and a reduced amount in the third.
Listen to the meeting
If you were unable to attend, you can listen to an audio recording of the meeting below.
The first recording is the presentation (one hour), the second the Q&A (one and a half hours). It was good to hear many valid points being raised by parents.
We had to boost the audio during the Q&A which can sound clumsy as there are sudden jumps between questions being asked.
Round-up of tweets
We weren’t intending to cover the meeting live, but ended up tweeting a lot of it and so have gathered those updates below for those not following it last night.
Find out more and have your say
If you have an interest in what happens to education on the Isle of Wight in the future, we’d strongly recommend you attend one of the many meetings taking place between now and 24th March.
The consultation doesn’t close until 30th April, leaving plenty of time to ensure you know all the facts before sharing your views and comments.
If you haven’t yet seen the consultation document, it can be found below (it does still contain the 27% error, so bear that in mind re A-level outcomes). Click on the full screen icon to see larger version. For more information visit the council’s Website.
Update 16:32: Updated details of A-Level funding following call from Philip Walker.