Government policy to blame for Todmorden sixth form closure, say Labour councillors

Todmorden High School.
Todmorden High School.

Labour councillors in Calderdale have said the decision to close Todmorden sixth form is a “direct result” of government policy.

Councillor Megan Swift, Labour’s spokesperson for Children and Young People said changes in funding by central government left governors with little choice - despite efforts made to preserve the sixth form’s viability through consultation with the council.

She said: “Todmorden is a good school which is valued and supported by local parents and the council has been giving all the support we are able to over the past few months.

“This has happened because the Conservative – Liberal Democrat coalition government changed the way that national funding is provided for sixth forms.

“They were warned from 2013 onwards that this would threaten the survival of smaller sixth forms – and this prophecy has now sadly come true in the case of Todmorden.

“Last year, Calderdale Council worked with the heads of secondary schools to commission an independent report into sixth form provision across the borough.

“This report warned that many small sixth forms were not viable, and that the future would have to involve closures and mergers if we were able to ensure that Calderdale young people have access to high quality sixth form provision.

“There has also been a West Yorkshire-wide review of post-16 education, because of concerns that Further Education college budgets are also under theat.

“We are surprised that local MP Craig Whittaker is calling for a review when in fact they have already taken place at both Calderdale and West Yorkshire level.”

Todmorden Labour councillor Susan Press added: “The level of funding provided to any school now is largely determined by national government.

“As Calderdale councillors, we continue to work to support schools, but we cannot control the financial climate within which they operate.

“That is something that we need our MPs to challenge. Labour’s commitment to supporting schools in Todmorden is clear.

“We have prioritised rebuilding Ferney Lee Primary School and building a new classroom block at Todmorden High School.”