THE HEAD of a new multi-million pound free school which opens this year in a Yorkshire city believes funding changes could spell the end of smaller sixth forms with more major stand-alone colleges opening .
The Elliott Hudson College for 16 to 19-year-olds, in Leeds, will have spaces for more than 1,000 students when it opens this September.
It is being run by the Gorse Academies Trust which already oversees three schools in Leeds – Morley and Farnley academies and a new free school, the Ruth Gorse Academy, which has opened on the Morley site but will move to a permanent home in the south of the city next year.
The trust have also been given the go-ahead to open a new sixth form free school which will take on pupils in year 12 this September.
Elliott Hudson College’s principal designate David Holtham said: “One of the main factors is the reduction in funding that schools get per pupil in sixth forms. This is going to make it more difficult for schools with their own small sixth form to run as many courses.
“It won’t be viable any more for a school to do say a German course with five people on it.”
He said the size of the Elliott Hudson College would allow it to offer more courses because of economies of scale. It plans to be able to offer more than 30 different A-level subjects.
Mr Holtham has been working as the principal designate ahead of the free school opening later this year.
He joined Elliott Hudson from Garforth Academy where he was the school’s vice principal with responsibility for its post-16 education.
He said: “I was in charge of a large and successful sixth form but the chance to be the founding principal of a new college is something which doesn’t come along very often.
“It is very exciting.”
He also said he was drawn by the chance to work with the Gorse Academies Trust which already runs two schools in Leeds rated as outstanding.
The Gorse Academy Trust’s Morley and Farnley sixth forms will stop taking new pupils from this September with the sixth formers instead starting year 12 at Elliott Hudson.
The new sixth form free school has also agreed partnerships with Bruntcliffe, Swallow Hill and Cockburn Schools in Leeds.
However, Mr Holtham claimed its reach would also go beyond just these five schools with pupils having accepted offers from 37 schools so far.
It also has a workforce of more than 30 teachers already recruited for September.
The school will be based in a converted building close to the White Rose Shopping Centre. The renovations are happening in two phases and about £15m will have been invested once the work is completed next year.
Mr Holtham said: “Our school is something which Leeds badly needs in the heart of Beeston.
“There is a strong moral purpose to it. It is about academic rigour and being able to show to people in disadvantaged communities with high aspirations what is needed in order to achieve success in exams and go on to high quality universities.”
Mr Holtham said that the curriculum would be focused solely on academic subjects rather than a mix of vocational subjects.