'Sad day' as Milford Haven School asks to close its sixth form

Milford Haven School Image copyright Google
Image caption The school has 44 sixth form pupils, less than a quarter of the total in 2010

A school in Pembrokeshire could lose its sixth form due to falling numbers of pupils and subjects available.

A request from governors at Milford Haven School to hold a consultation on closure has been backed by councillors.

Chair of the governors Pat James said it had been "one of the most difficult decisions" they had ever taken.

Local councillor Mike Stoddart said the authority's deal with Pembrokeshire College to offer A-levels had been a "death warrant" for school sixth forms.

A report to Pembrokeshire County Council said Milford Haven School currently had 44 sixth form pupils, less than a quarter of the total it had in 2010, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

'Overwhelming' evidence

The number of subject choices on offer had dropped from 22 to nine, plus the Welsh baccalaureate.

The school also faces a budget deficit of £120,000, with the cost of its sixth form £245,926 for 2019/20.

Mrs James wrote a letter to the council, following a meeting of the governors, saying: "Having explored every avenue over a period of time the evidence for closure is overwhelming."

Paul Rapi, a Plaid Cymru councillor for Carew, said it was a "sad day" and was "not the way we should be going with our education".

He predicted other schools would soon follow, and blamed a lack of funding for sixth forms by the Welsh Government.

Mr Stoddart, a non-aligned councillor for Milford Haven, said: "It's even sadder because all this has been brought about under the auspices of an administration I support."

He blamed the council's signing in 2017 of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Pembrokeshire College in Haverfordwest to provide A-level courses, which he had strongly objected to.

"Once that MoU was signed it was the death warrant for A-levels in our schools," he said.

"Milford is only the first, Tenby can't be far behind and so it goes on."

The Welsh Government said school organisation at a local level was a matter for local authorities.

"We continue to prioritise education spending, which is why we recently announced the single biggest investment in teachers since devolution - a £24m package of professional learning to help raise standards in the classroom," a spokesman said.

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