As students, parents and staff know, we have been reviewing our sixth form offer.
We have met with students and staff, and considered the success and viability of each subject we offer.
This website sets out the information we have gathered. It also explains why, based on this information, we believe our proposal to close our sixth form and become an 11-16 academy is in the best interests of all our students.
This is because it will mean that the academy’s funds can be spent on better provision for our Year 7-11 students, rather than subsidising the sixth form which does not attract enough students to be self-sufficient.
We are consulting students, parents and the wider community and would like to hear your views and suggestions. The closing date of our consultation is Friday 6th July 2018, so please respond by noon that day.
Our proposal is to close our sixth form from Autumn 2018.
As part of this, we can make the following guarantees:
Current Year 13:
- These students are unaffected
Current Year 12:
- Students in Year 12 have been guaranteed places at other Harris academies, all of which have high records of achievement.
- The five students on our Hair and Beauty Course and 11 students doing Motor Vehicle Maintenance, which are not offered elsewhere at Harris, would complete the first stage of their course with us and then transfer to other providers if they decide to complete the next level.
Current Year 11:
- 30 Year 11 students and a handful of external students have applied to join the sixth form in September 2018. The majority of these are also holding offers from other sixth forms, which they are happy to take up. We have additionally ensured that all Year 11 students have been guaranteed their chosen courses at other Harris academies, subject to meeting the entry criteria.
Future Year 11 cohorts:
- In the future, Year 11 would be offered places at nearby Harris academies if they meet the grade entry criteria and will have structured careers guidance to ensure they are aware of this option.
These guarantees ensure that no sixth former is negatively affected by our proposals, and that the rest of the school – now and in the future – can benefit from a better education and more opportunities in Years 7-11.
(1) Current sixth form offer
We have looked at the curriculum offered and the number of students taking these courses, and how many students complete them successfully.
The number of students in some A level classes at the academy has traditionally been low. There has also been a low retention rate, with students leaving at the end of Year 12. Due to this, class sizes in Year 13 are extremely small and have to be subsidised financially with funds that should be spent on the younger students.
To be viable, sixth forms need to be much larger than Harris Academy Peckham’s:
- Government advice to schools establishing new sixth forms is that to be financially viable, they require a minimum of 200 students.
- There are currently just 119 students in the sixth form of Harris Academy Peckham, across Year 12 and Year 13.
- Based on the number of applications received from current Year 11 students, the sixth form would become even smaller if it remains open next year – we forecast that it would have just 105 students.
We feel that it is not right to be spending funds meant to be for under-16s on subsidising unviable sixth form courses, and therefore cannot justify carrying on without any changes.
To give you more information of the scale of the problem, a sixth form class needs to have about 14 students in it to be financially viable. But, currently, none of our Year 13 groups has this number of students. Even the largest class has just 7 students, others are even smaller than this, with an average class size of 5 and 10 groups with 3 or less students.
For example, we have just 1 student in our ICT class in Year 13 and just 1 studying Law. As well as the financial concerns with very small groups, there is also a less opportunity for important collaborative work between students: larger groups will offer a better learning experience for our students.
We had been hoping for an upturn in demand, which might have made the group sizes more viable. However, very few applications for Year 12 places have been received for September 2018. This would mean several courses not being able to run and the creation of very small groups again.
We think that we have been offering too many courses for the number of students who are applying and some of the courses would be better delivered through other pathways now nationally available, like the new Apprenticeship training programmes. But if we drastically limit the number of courses, the choice for students would become small and this would not be a good option for two very important years of study.
(2) Guaranteed Year 13 places for current Year 12
In making these proposals, a key priority is to ensure that current Year 12 students are guaranteed high quality places for Year 13.
We have spoken individually to current Year 12 students and discussed the likelihood of them transferring to other courses in nearby Harris academies. These academies all have very successful track records and have guaranteed places for all of our Year 12 students, so that they can complete Year 13. If, in order to achieve this, other Harris academies need to admit more students than the published admissions number, they will be able to do so.
We currently have eleven Year 12s on our Motor Vehicle Maintenance course and five students on our Hair and Beauty course. As these courses are not offered in other Harris academies, these students will complete their level 1 course at Peckham and transfer to other providers or apprenticeships, if that is what they choose to do, to complete their qualifications and training. In all cases, the transfer would be managed carefully and we would make sure their new teachers have all the correct information for each student.
All students have already had 1-1 sessions with careers officers or the Principal of Harris Federation Post-16 to discuss their next steps.
(3) Secure sixth form places for Year 11 students
We have spoken to the 30 Year 11 students and the handful of external students who have applied to join Year 12 at Harris Academy Peckham in September 2018.
The majority of these students were not committed to studying at Harris Academy Peckham and are holding offers from other sixth forms they would be happy to take up.
Additionally, all Year 11 students have had a 1-1 interview with our careers team and the Principal of Post 16 at the Harris Federation, and been guaranteed their chosen courses at other Harris academies, subject to meeting course entry requirements.
(4) High quality options for future Year 11 cohorts
In the future, Year 11 would be offered places at nearby Harris academies if they meet the grade entry criteria and will have structured careers guidance to ensure they are aware of this option.
In addition to the Harris sixth forms that are already established, the Harris Professional Skills Sixth Form will open in 2018. This will offer excellent, focused, vocational options. Further information is on its website, www.harrisps6f.org.uk.
(5) Sixth form teachers
We have spoken to the teachers who would be affected by closure of the sixth form and discussed other opportunities for them at Harris Academy Peckham or in nearby Harris academies. Posts have already been found for some, and we will continue to work towards finding suitable posts for the others. We will ensure that all staff are treated fairly and will seek to avoid redundancies wherever possible.
(6) Using our funds fairly for all students
Every successful school needs to have a balanced budget, ensuring that funding is used fairly and appropriately for all students.
Currently, funding intended for students in Years 7-11 is having to be used to subsidise our sixth form. This is because the sixth form has not attracted enough students to be financially self-sustainable; this has become increasingly challenging over the past two years.
As set out earlier, none of our Year 13 courses has more than 7 students and some courses are being taught to just one student.
The Harris Federation has supported Harris Academy Peckham financially, but we do need to make sure the right resources are in place for students in Years 7 -11 as a priority.
We also do not feel that the extent to which our funds are being used to subsidise the sixth form is justified when there is outstanding sixth form provision nearby and within the Harris Federation.
Ending our subsidy for the sixth form would mean that every penny provided for students in Years 7-11 could be spent on them. This could enable younger students to have:
- Smaller class sizes;
- More additional study support for GCSEs, including subject revision after hours for Year 11;
- After school enrichment including drama, music and sport;
- A basketball coach;
- Mentoring programmes;
- More pastoral leaders to work with students;
- Counselling services;
- Additional Speech and Language Support;
- More SEND groups for improving literacy and numeracy;
- More trips and visits to support their learning.
Currently some of this has had to be diverted to subsidise the sixth form, but we would like to put it back in place. We would welcome any other views on how we can further improve provision in these lower year groups.
(7) Further information on the budget
The amount of money a sixth form receives in each year from the government is based on the number of students in the school that year. The number of students attracted by our sixth form has reduced over time.
Schools do not always know the precise number of students they will have until the first day of the school year in September, after a budget is set.
If a school has over-estimated the number of students it will have, it needs to give the money back to the government.This causes financial challenges during the year, because it means the school has paid to provide teaching and other resources for more students than it actually ends up educating. This year the academy had to pay back £294,000.
In 2016/2017 the academy spent more than its income by nearly £100,000. This was covered by the reserves the academy had from previous years.
In 2017/2018 it is predicted that the academy will again spend more than its income, this time by nearly £300,000. The academy does not have enough saved reserves to cover this, so the Federation’s reserves will be funding the shortfall of £106,000. The Federation also gave the academy an additional £100,000 to directly support lower school activities this year, for example exam revision classes, sports coaches, speech and language groups.
In 2018/2019 if the sixth form were to stay open with the current offer the budget shows the academy would spend over its income by £441,000, which is unsustainable.
We have identified that the large number of groups in the sixth form – there are 50 courses, some with only a handful of students or even only one student enrolled – are being subsidised by lower school funding or the Harris Federation. Our calculations show us, that this year, at least a quarter of a million pounds was diverted from lower school resources and used to subsidise these small groups in the 6th form.
We are happy to answer any questions you may have.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will respond to you. Please also provide your telephone number.
We would welcome your views on our proposal to close our sixth form, which also would mean that we would stop admitting new students in Year 12.
Please ensure you respond to our consultation by noon on Friday 6th July 2018, which is when our consultation period closes.
You can respond in three ways:
- By email: email@example.com
- In writing: correspondence should be sent to Ms Honie Crick, Harris Academy Peckham, 112 Peckham Road, Peckham, London SE15 5DZ
By filling in the form below
After our consultation, we will consider all the responses and discuss these with our board of Governors. If we decide to go ahead with closure plans, we will submit our findings and proposals to the Regional Schools Commissioner, who will make the final decision.