At a recent governing body meeting of the federated governing board of Boroughbridge High School and King James’s School, Knaresborough it was resolved to ask us to consult on the permanent closure of the sixth form at Boroughbridge High School.
Boroughbridge High School has worked in collaboration with other schools since 2016 to ensure that students have access to a wide post-16 offer and to try to maintain sixth form provision at the school. Initially they collaborated with Easingwold and Thirsk Schools, but this collaboration ended when Easingwold School joined the Outwood Multi Academy Trust. Boroughbridge High School has subsequently moved to post-16 collaboration with King James’s School, Knaresborough. This partnership was formalised through a federation of the two schools in January 2021.
In response to falling numbers of sixth form pupils, and following consultation in Autumn 2021, the decision was made in Spring 2022 by the federated governing board to temporarily suspend entries to the sixth form at Boroughbridge High School for two years to take effect from September 2022.
Due to the demographics of the area, numbers on roll at Boroughbridge High School have decreased, making it more difficult to maintain viable class sizes at post-16 in terms of quality of experience, subject breadth and financial viability.
The numbers on roll at Boroughbridge High School have been falling for several years as shown in the table below. This is partly due to an overall general reduction in the numbers of local children in the catchment area, with particularly smaller cohorts for entry in 2018/19 and 2020/21.
Pupil numbers for 11-16 and 16-18 year olds at Boroughbridge High School from academic year 2013/14 to 2023/4 and forecast pupil numbers to 2027/28.
|Y6 feeder cohort in catchment schools
|Pupil number Y7 - Y11
|Pupil numbers 6th form
|Total pupil roll
|Estimated additional pupils from housing
|Total pupils including estimated housing yield
The school population is now stabilising and is projected to increase in future. But even if all A level students could be retained at Boroughbridge High School, the governing body does not feel that numbers would be large enough to provide a high quality post-16 provision both in terms of curriculum and experience, or that it would be financially viable.
Housebuilding in the area may have an impact on the size of the intake to the school, but this impact is expected to be slow, and it could be some years before the school returns to its previous size.
Pupil numbers primarily determine the funding for school budgets. The funding model for post-16 education has changed in recent years and now favours larger Sixth Forms than Boroughbridge High School has ever had. Historically, funding intended for those in years 7 to 11 at the school to some extent subsidised the provision of a sixth form, but this has become increasingly unsustainable as schools have faced increasing cost and funding pressures over recent years.
In May 2023 Ofsted judged the overall effectiveness of Boroughbridge High School as ‘requires improvement’, with the quality of education rated as ‘good’, behaviour and attitudes as ‘requires improvement’, personal development as ‘good’ and leadership and management as ‘requires improvement’. This followed previous overall judgements of ‘good’ in 2012, confirmed by a short inspection in 2016 and an initial (section 8) inspection in 2022. This latest Ofsted report sets out what the school needs to do to improve, as well as its existing strengths. School leaders, governors and the local authority will continue to work together on school improvement taking account of these recommendations.
The school has advised that there would be no changes to staffing as a result of the proposed permanent closure of the sixth form.
Alternative sixth form provision in the local area
In September 2023, out of 62 students who had attended Boroughbridge High School in Year 11, 84% chose to remain in education, with 65% of these following vocational courses. Those studying Level 3 courses (A Level/BTEC) went to York College (12), Harrogate Grammar (5), St. Aidan’s (less than 5), King James (less than 5) and Thirsk (less than 5).
In September 2022, out of 91 students who had attended Boroughbridge High School in Year 11, 89% chose to remain in education, with 51% of these following vocational courses. Those studying Level 3 courses (A Level/BTEC) went to York College (20), St. Aidan’s (9), King James (8), Ripon Grammar School (less than 5) and Harrogate Grammar (less than 5).
If they choose to stay within the Federation, Year 11 students at Boroughbridge High School have opportunities during the year to meet with the King James’s School post-16 team, in order to secure a smooth transition from Year 11 to Year 12. King James’s School, Knaresborough was last inspected by Ofsted in January 2023 (section 8 inspection) which judged the school as continuing to be a good school. The report states ‘students in the sixth form flourish. There is a broad range of subjects available. Pastoral support for sixth-form students is also highly effective.’ The sixth form is based in a new purpose-built centre, opened in September 2019.
Boroughbridge High School run a free minibus service from Boroughbridge High School to King James’s School at the beginning and end of the school day so that sixth form students can, if they wish, travel initially to Boroughbridge High School. Direct buses also run from the Boroughbridge catchment area to St. Aidan’s and St. John Fisher Associated Sixth Form in Harrogate, and to York College, and there are also public transport services to Knaresborough, Harrogate and York.
We provide assistance with transport to sixth form or college to students who qualify.
To qualify for assistance with transport to sixth form or college, the following applies:
- students must be over 16 and under 19 on 1 September 2023 and live in North Yorkshire
- students must be attending the nearest sixth form or further education college to their home address or the sixth form of the secondary school which is recognised as the normal school for their home address
- the course attended must be full-time for instance, more than 12 hours a week
- the sixth form or college is the nearest establishment offering a course that the council consider suitable to a student's career choice, or that is a pre-requisite for entry into higher education (see below for more details)
- the nearest sixth form or college is more than three miles from the home by the shortest walked route
- students must have agreement from their parent or guardian to pay for the pass
Transport assistance needs to be renewed annually and is not provided for students on apprenticeships or work placements.
Further details are available on the Transport to sixth form or college page.
For the reasons above it is proposed to change the age range at Boroughbridge High School, from 31 August 2024, by ceasing the sixth form provision.
What happens next?
There will be a public meeting on Thursday 8 February 2024 at 6pm at Boroughbridge High School.
Your views about this proposal are welcomed. You can either download, print and complete and return a response sheet (pdf / 86 KB), or submit an online response. Paper responses should be returned to us at the address below:
Boroughbridge High Sixth Form Proposal
North Yorkshire Council
Responses to the consultation will be published on our website. Your personal details, and those of others you may refer to, will not be published.
The closing date for responses is 5pm on 1 March 2024.
All responses to the consultation received by this date are scheduled to be considered by the council’s executive on 19 March 2024.
If the council’s executive decides to proceed with the closure proposal, then statutory notices would be published in the local press on 4 April 2024. These notices would provide a further four weeks for representations to be made. A final decision is then scheduled to be taken by our executive in May or June. If agreed, the sixth form provision would cease from on 31 August 2024.