A SCHOOL has unveiled plans to open a sixth form.
Whitburn Church of England Academy will hold a public meeting tomorrow to outline proposals to open the post-16 centre in September 2013.
The plans follow demands from parents and pupils, and a desire to honour the vision of inspirational headteacher Paula Williams, who died in January.
Up to 80 per cent of pupils at the school, which has 964 students, leave South Tyneside to continue their education. It would be the first CofE sixth form in the borough.
Acting principal Alan Hardie said: “We intend to use our experience and proven track record to deliver outstanding post-16 education of a traditional academic nature, with the focus on English, maths, the sciences and modern foreign languages.
“There is a huge demand from our pupils to have the option of continuing their education in their outstanding local school up to the age of 18.
“It makes little sense for our pupils to have to pay to travel as far as Newcastle and Durham when they could have outstanding provision at Whitburn.
“Although we are an academy, we recognise the key strategic role we have as part of South Tyneside’s ‘family of schools’ as part of planned changes to the wider post-16 provision.”
Mr Hardie said the academy would work with South Tyneside College and the other secondary schools to achieve “outstanding post-16 provision across the borough”.
“We believe this can only support the local authority’s vision for economic regeneration as outstanding education is a key factor in attracting inward investment.
“Having a sixth form at Whitburn will pose no threat to the existing post-16 provision in South Tyneside, as most of our former pupils currently study in sixth forms and colleges in other local authorities.”
Last June, all parents, carers and pupils were surveyed and 98 per cent were in favour of the sixth form plan.
The Rev Ken Smith, chairman of governors, added: “The governing body is unanimous in its support of the sixth form proposal.
“We believe it will meet the overwhelming demand from pupils and parents and carers, and will help raise aspirations of our young people.
“It will ensure they have the opportunity to pursue their post-16 education within their community and within the context of our Anglican ethos, an option which is not currently available to them.”
The meeting will take place at the Septimus Hall, Whitburn Academy, from 6.30pm.