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Closure of Calder High 6th Form

From Michael Prior

Sunday, 18 March 2018

The announcement of the proposed closure of the 6th form at Calder High will create problems for local parents wanting their children to have a good education at a local school. Now they will be faced with the prospect of long bus journeys to unfamiliar schools rather than a smooth transition with familiar faces.

But it must also raise some serious questions about education in the Upper Valley and, in particular, the management of Calder High School (CHS).

In September, 2014, when the future of Todmorden High (THS) 6th form was doubtful, it had a 6th roll of 140 whilst CHS had a roll of 169. Both were slight increases on the previous year. When THS 6th was closed, a number of us suggested that there were better solutions, notable a form of class-sharing, a model which has been successful elsewhere. We suspected that the closure was an attempt to save CHS by transferring most of the THS pupils to it.

This has proved a catastrophic failure. CHS is now stated to have a roll of only 120 falling next year to below 100. Demographics cannot explain this collapse. It really is about time that serious questions are asked about the management of CHS. A dozen years ago my own son refused point-blank to go to their 6th form as he hated the whole school setup and accepted the long trip to Huddersfield which meant getting up at 7 am. to get the bus. I know several people whose children made the same choice. This situation seems to have got worse. Of course there are severe financial pressures but the academy schools in Calderdale seem to ride the storm whilst it is the local-authority schools in the Upper Valley which suffer.

In 2015, an independent report commissioned by Calderdale Council commented “Given the financial constraints in sixth-form funding, it is perhaps this section that should give the greatest food for thought. The class sizes are extremely small and so much duplication of provision seems unnecessary and totally unplanned…The sharing of resources or expertise via co-teaching of students was once attempted (the “Campus Calderdale” model) but in conversation with heads it is clear that any co-operation is minimal and ad hoc at best. In effect it seems as if each school is doing its own thing when it comes to curriculum planning and running courses, which may on occasion suit the teaching expertise of their staff rather than meeting informed student demand”

It seems as if the management of CHS have made pretty poor job of “doing its own thing”.

Perhaps our local councillors could provide some explanation of just why the obvious road of class-sharing has never been contemplated in the three Upper Valley schools for which Calderdale Council has responsibility. Sowerby Bridge 6th form will be the next to go and then the closure of THS in further efforts to save the incompetent management of CHS.

Remember, you read it here first.

From Julie C

Sunday, 18 March 2018

My daughter chose Huddersfield over 20 years ago, after studying up to GCSE at Calder High. A couple of years back, my grandson made the same decision and is studying for A levels in Rochdale.

I think part of it is that young people are ready for a change- to be treated as the mature folk they have become. They maybe yearn for a less parochial setting than the local school in a village, rather than a City school.

Also if they stay on at the High School, they are still being taught by staff who've taught them from age 11. Also the reputation of other 6th Forms for results is better.

My grandson confirmed right at the beginning of his First year 6th, that he was expected to do much more work than friends who'd stayed on at Calder.

The downsides are the travelling, and the expense of getting to Rochdale. It was his choice, and luckily his family have been able to support his decision. For some families it may prove more difficult.

From Graham Barker

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

School sixth forms often can’t provide the specific A-level combinations that many students want for their chosen HE path. Pooling resources ought to help but this seems a lost cause. Influential too is the welcome shown to potential students and at least Huddersfield and Rochdale score highly on that. 

Maybe CHS needs (or needed?) to examine its whole culture for reasons why so few now want to stay on. My own family’s experience of CHS is that a mostly high standard of teaching doesn’t translate into ’brand loyalty’. Despite a good recovery from the upheavals of a few years ago, the school still comes across as a less than happy ship.

From Ken O

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

I can certainly back your last comment up!
"the incompetent management of CHS"

I have experienced it as both employee and parent. 

I am thinking of writing another book!

See also

HebWeb News: Calder High decision on sixth form closure 12 March 2018

HebWeb Forum: Calder High/Cragg Vale schools amalgamation consultation