New sixth form to open in Sunderland

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A WEARSIDE school is celebrating being given the go-ahead to open a new sixth form in the city.

Southmoor Academy has been given the green light by the Department of Education to open a sixth form centre, which will take in its first set of students in September next year.

The new facility for all post-16 students will be available for all students currently studying at the Ryhope Road school who achieve the necessary grades at GCSE and will also provide places for up to 30 young people from other schools across the city.

Southmoor Academy principal, Dr Phil Ingram, said: “This is great news and it is a reflection of the hard work and achievement of all our staff in delivering so much improvement over the last five years.”

In order to open the sixth form, Southmoor had to show a strong track record in achievement and Ofsted inspection reports to convince officials that any new expansion to the education it offers would be a success.

Dr John Brown, chairman of governors at the academy, said: “Like many people I attended Southmoor Sixth Form before it closed some 30 years ago, so it’s fantastic that pupils will now have the option of staying on at the school they love so much.”

The Sixth Form at Southmoor aims to broaden choice for all pupils in the Sunderland area where options are currently restricted to faith school sixth forms or Sunderland College and no non-faith sixth form in a school setting.

Dr Brown said: “For many people who feel that they want a structured school environment, but do not want to attend a faith school, Southmoor will provide a vital service.”

Dr Ingram said Sunderland performs poorly in accessing higher education with post-16 pupils being 25 per cent less likely to get a place at a top university than the national average, so a key target for the new sixth form will be to gain places at these universities for their students.

He said: “We have a record of really delivering results whilst developing happy well-adjusted students.

“We aim to extend our work to post-16 for the benefit of the whole community to boost the life chances of our young adults to reach for the very top.”