Context of the Post-16 Consultation
Thank you to the many people who responded to the recent post-16 consultation. The consultation started on March 12 2012 and ended on March 31 2012. There were in total 546 responses. This included 244 parents or guardians, 247 students, 42 employees (29 from the College) and 6 Rutland residents, there were also 13 responses from those who chose not to answer the question. Responses were collected in a number of ways: 59 from the College website, 237 from student emails, 29 from Catmose College staff emails, 15 from Facebook and 207 from parental emails. The full report can be read here: Post 16 Consultation March 2012
There were 513 responses from people connected with Catmose College, 9 from CBEC, 1 from UCC, 14 from Rutland County College (6th form of CBEC) and 13 from others.
The small number of responses from the other Rutland Colleges is statistically unreliable. The focus on this report will be those responses received from Catmose College stakeholders who formed the vast majority of respondents.
The purpose of the consultation is to support the College Governors decision, as to the course of action it should seek to follow in the future, with respect to post-16 education. As an academy, the College can apply to the Secretary of State for education to extend its age range. This will require a consultation to have been carried out and a business plan to have been drawn up which demonstrates that the provision is needed and viable.
There has been considerable investment made by Rutland County Council and Casterton Business and Enterprise College in the Rutland County College provision which, for many of our students is their closest provision. In recent years however, a significant majority of students from Catmose College have chosen other provision, often travelling significant distances to do so. The College continues to offer impartial advice to parents or guardians and their children in order that they access the best possible provision given their strengths. We would not be fulfilling our duty of care however, if we do not explore the possibility of starting our own 6th form provision, either on our own or in partnership with other Colleges.
The College has three options to consider:
• the current post-16 provision for students is adequate. Catmose College should focus on preparing students for GCSE and providing impartial advice to its students ensuring they are able to choose the provider that is best for them;
• a new sixth form college in Rutland, with its own Principal, governed by Catmose College, UCC, CBEC and with support from an existing 6th form provider with an excellent track record;
• a sixth form at Catmose College, building on our ethos, values and performance 11-16.
The results of this consultation, alongside historical data all point to a dissatisfaction with the current post-16 provision available for Catmose College students. Of the Catmose College parents or guardians who responded, only 25% believe the current provision good or outstanding; our benchmark is normally 80%.
The parental response is supported by the choices students are making regarding where to study. There is no single provider attracting more than 25% of the cohort and their geographical spread means a fragmented and disparate experience for Catmose College students. The preferences expressed by students and parents or guardians in this survey indicate that this trend is likely to continue in the future.
The wide range of providers is surprising given the homogeneity of our students’ ability; at least two thirds are likely to access ‘A’ level courses in each year. The answer as to why this is occurring is perhaps characterised by one of the many open ended responses the College received:
“We are strong supporters of state education living on a low family income. It makes us frustrated that our highly academic child cannot find suitable provision locally so she will be faced with all the vagaries and uncertainties of scholarship/bursary chasing to try to find something for her in the private sector (with which we are ideologically uncomfortable). It seems unbelievable to us that we have outstanding 11-16 provision in Oakham and Uppingham yet we will probably have to send her out of county with all the associated extra time and expense. She is a Year 10 and it is depressing that this will probably not be sorted out by the time she goes to 6th Form. We pray that things have improved by the time our second child is at this stage.”
Respondents were also clear as their preferred solution, a 6th form at Catmose College. However, this is not without risk for the College or our students; the College would need to be sure that it is financially viable and sustainable for the future. For this to happen, the provision would need to gain the confidence of the parents or guardians who currently choose out of county provision.
Although it is clearly the respondents’ first choice for a Catmose College 6th form, the reality is that a whole Rutland solution would be more viable and have a greater chance of success, particularly if the experiences of a successful existing provider could be used.