There was shock for students looking forward to starting sixth form classes next week at Rutland County College after they were told on Wednesday that Year 12 classes were cancelled.
Thirty students had signed up to start at the college, based at Barleythorpe, near Oakham, next week.
But the numbers enrolled were less than half of what was needed - 65 - to make running Year 12 classes viable so principal Carl Smith announced yesterday that Year 12 would be cancelled in 2016/2017. Year 13 classes will run as normal.
Both students and other sixth form providers in the area have been made aware of the decision and Mr Smith said staff at Rutland County College would support students in trying to find alternative places.
He said: “We have made this decision quickly because students need time to obtain a place in another institution.
“Year 12 students can be assured we explored every avenue possible to avoid making this decision but there was simply no other option available to us at this time.
“We would like to stress that our Year 13 students are not affected by this decision and they will continue on their courses as normal.”
Mr Smith said everyone at the college was disappointed at the low enrollment numbers. Just 30 students had enrolled, compared to 81 in Year 13.
He believes this is down to plans to move Rutland County College to a new location in Great Casterton at the same site as Casterton College Rutland, as well as the opening of another sixth-form college Harington School half a mile away from the Barleythorpe site.
The news comes just two weeks after Rutland County College announced record-breaking A level results.
Each post-16 student comes with just over £3,000 funding per year and the college would need at least 65 students to go ahead with Year 12 courses.
Cuts to post-16 funding over the last few years have also had an impact on the college and this year it expects to lose around £300,000 in post-16 funding.
The next step for Mr Smith and the college’s governors will be to review budgets and to investigate redeploying the staff who would have taught Year 12 students. Mr Smith did not rule out the prospect of making staff redundant.
He said: “Staff were understandably very disappointed and obviously if they have questions we will work with them.
“We will be obviously looking to avoid redundancies in the first instance but like any organisation, we have to balance our books.”
Mr Smith said he was hopeful the Year 12 would reopen as planned at the Casterton site next September.
He said: “During our consultation, we have had strong support for relocating the college to Casterton and our current Year 11 students are in a very different situation with no transitional period.
“It was always going to be difficult in our transition year but we are entering an exciting new phase as a school and that is extremely good news for the community.”
The Department for Education and Rutland County Council have been informed of the decision, as have Rutland MP Alan Duncan and Stamford and Bourne MP Nick Boles.
Management of Rutland County College was given to Casterton in 2010, who took over from Tresham College. The college moved from Lands’ End Way to the £5.5m site in Barleythorpe in 2012.
Since then, Catmose College, Uppingham Community College and Oakham School joined forces to open free school Harington School, which opened to students last year. A new building will open at Catmose in October.