REVEALED: Head turned students away before closure plan

Ormiston Ilkeston Enterprise Academy.
Ormiston Ilkeston Enterprise Academy.

The head teacher of Ormiston Ilkeston academy turned some students away – but not all – prior to plans to close its sixth form, it has emerged.

Damned by the school’s pupils and parents, the move to close the sixth form in July 2016 will mean Year 12s have to finish their education elsewhere and there are fears some will end up dropping out altogether.

The decision, claimed to be prompted by dwindling class numbers and funding cuts, has meant misery for many Year 12 students.

They have been left questioning why they were admitted in the first place and if they can finish their A-Levels elsewhere - while some are seeking to move to other schools immediately.

Now a video posted on social media has revealed how some students, believed to be around 20, were turned away by the school when they applied for places.

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Quizzing headteacher Dave Smith at a meeting yesterday, a student asked: “If you knew the sixth form was in that much of a mess, that it was going to be shut down, then why not give them a chance?”

Mr Smith said: “They couldn’t (have come into these classes) because they would have been setting up for failure.”

Some pupils were not enrolled due to their performance and entry requirements, however he said some were admitted ‘partly to secure numbers and partly to give them a chance’.

He added: “What we’ve done is secure lots of children in a real wide variety of qualifications that’s then cost us too much money to be able to provide and then additionally to that they haven’t achieved, with quite rare exceptions, what they would have done elsewhere.”

The video may confirm the suspicions of many that the school knew about the decision when it admitted Year 12s to a certain fate, however Mr Smith denied this.

He told the ‘Tiser: “Over the summer we expected 60 students to join us for this academic year, which would have made the sixth form viable.

“It was only when in September only 40 enrolled, that we had to consider that the sixth form may no longer be viable. We have now had to take the very difficult decision that it is indeed unviable, but all Year 13 students will be able to complete their studies to the end of the year, and our Year 12 students are able to do the same, as they are all on one-year courses.

When asked if he denied turning some pupils away from Year 12, he said: “Students who did not meet the entry criteria for our courses could not be accepted.

“Losing those students would cost close to £250,000 and we just can’t afford to run at that sort of a loss, which is very sad.

“Funding changes have had a significant impact on our budgets, as they have for many other sixth forms, and as such we simply cannot afford to keep the sixth form open.”

His comments could go some way to dispel the suspicions of pupils and parents, who are still angry at the news.

One student said: “Due to depletion of the organisation’s funds all potential students where turned down which had dwindled the numbers leaving the sixth form in the situation of having to close down.

“This has caused a major uproar and some students feel abandoned and leaving the parents furious and students feeling deserted.”

Unhappy parent Sharon Woodward said: “We’ve been informed that they will be closing next July and all sixth form students have to find their own placements to continue their courses.

“This is an outrage and someone needs to be held accountable for these young students losing out.

“They have only been their just over four weeks so surely they knew this when they agreed to let them stay on in sixth form.”

‘Tiser reader Jo Chambers also blasted the school for taking on any new Year 12 pupils.

She said: “It’s disgusting, a decision like this isn’t undertaken without months of consideration. But yet they still took on sixth formers.”