Mid Wales

John Beddoes School Presteigne sixth form to close

John Beddoes School
Image caption John Beddoes was the first high school in Powys to be placed in special measures

Sixth-form students in a Powys town will go to college over the English border after funding for its struggling high school was cut.

Powys council has voted to withdraw funding for year 12 courses at John Beddoes School in Presteigne, its first high school in special measures.

The authority said lower sixth numbers at the school on the Wales-England border had dwindled to eight.

The sixth form is set to close after the remaining students finish in 2014.

It means children from Presteigne wanting to study A-levels from September could have to travel about 6.5 miles (10km) over the border to Kington, Herefordshire, to the nearest sixth form.

But they would be entitled to free school transport as Kington would be the nearest "receiving school" and is more than 3 miles (5km) from Presteigne.

Parents will also have the option of sending their children to other sixth forms in Powys, in towns such as Llandrindod Wells, 20 miles (32km) away, or Builth Wells, which is a 22-mile (35km) drive.

The plans by Powys council's cabinet member for learning and leisure, Myfanwy Alexander, were recommended for approval on Tuesday.

They came weeks after John Beddoes School was placed in special measures by the school inspection body Estyn.

Teaching jobs could be under threat now the plans have been backed.

Powys council said the school's exam results in recent years had been poor and it was ranked in band 5 in the Welsh government's school banding system.

The authority said a number of sixth form pupils from Presteigne were already educated elsewhere, including at schools and colleges across the border.

Ms Alexander's report approved by the council's cabinet read: "Following a review of the current, previous and future post-16 learner numbers in John Beddoes, it is proposed that the authority does not fund any year 12 courses in the school from the commencement of the 2013-14 academic year.

'Impact on standards'

"Over the last few years the school has seen a drop in post-16 learners with the current year 12 (lower sixth) year group consisting of only eight learners and funding of £20,850 per learner.

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Media captionJohn Beddoes could be the first secondary school in Powys to lose its sixth form.

"The post-16 executive curriculum funding and planning group has recently considered the post-16 situation at the school and approved that no year 12 provision should be commissioned from the school from the start of the 2013-14 year."

Powys council said pupils choosing to attend sixth forms in England or schools elsewhere in the county would be funded by the Welsh government.

John Beddoes School serves the wards of five county councillors, all of whom had reservations about the council's plans, said Ms Alexander.

The councillors said the scrapping of the sixth form could lead to younger pupils leaving John Beddoes which would have a further impact on school standards.

In November, school inspectors told Powys council to make "significant improvement" to its education service.

Estyn criticised performance and gave the authority 50 days to prepare an action plan.

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