Parents and pupils back Casterton sixth form move

Principal of Casterton College, Rutland, Carl Smith. Photo: MSMP-12-0-15am001 EMN-151210-143729001
Principal of Casterton College, Rutland, Carl Smith. Photo: MSMP-12-0-15am001 EMN-151210-143729001

A college principal is pushing ahead with plans to relocate his sixth form after a positive reaction from staff, parents and pupils.

Carl Smith revealed in July that he wanted to move sixth formers from the Rutland County College site in Oakham to the Casterton College Rutland site in Great Casterton.

He said at the time that it would offer a “permanent solution” to the problem of post-16 education in Stamford, and launched a consultation.

After three months more than 600 people had responded, and when results were counted just over 88 per cent of respondents were in favour of the move.

Read more: Casterton sixth form will ‘solve Stamford issue’.

Mr Smith said public support for the plan was “very clear”.

He added: “We knew it was likely to be popular but the sheer scale of the support has taken us by surprise and reinforced our belief that this is the right thing to do. The people of Stamford and east Rutland want a high quality academic sixth form on their doorstep as soon as possible.”

An application will be made to the Government’s Educational Funding Agency in the next few weeks, and a planning application for a new sixth form block is being drawn up. Mr Smith hopes to move the sixth form for the start of the 2017 school year.

“If we are allowed to go ahead with this proposal it will be great news for everyone,” he said.

The move to Great Casterton has been mooted for some time, but the appearance of specialist sixth form college Harington School in Oakham in September gave impetus to the plans. The presence of two academic state sixth forms within a few hundred metres of each other in Oakham, while Stamford had none, simply didn’t make sense in the eyes of Mr Smith.

“The appearance of the free school has given us a wonderful opportunity to finally solve the Stamford sixth form problem once and for all, while at the same time addressing the over-supply of post-16 places in the west of the county,” he said.

Mr Smith has spoken to schools around Stamford and further afield to secure support for his plans. He is also developing a close relationship with New College Stamford to make sure teenagers have full access to both academic and vocational courses in Stamford.

He said: “We strongly recommend that 16-plus pupils who wish to follow apprenticeships or vocational courses go to New College Stamford, which has excellent facilities and a great track record in these areas.

“Between us, all pupils will be catered for at a college close to where they live.”

No Stamford school has offered a full A-level state education since the abolition of the Stamford Endowed Schools scholarship scheme in 2012, although A-levels can be studied at New College Stamford.

Stamford Welland Academy principal Anthony Partington has made his desire for a sixth form clear, but pupil numbers at the school are not yet high enough to make it viable.