We told you so

May 4, 2012

There have been rumours of this for a while, but now the news is out. 

IMG 0259

The head teacher and the governors, who misled the school and the town  should resign. They told us that a sixth form was unsustainable and had to go. Now, as they follow Michael Gove’s diktat that every school must become an academy, they suddenly decide that it is sustainable after all. 


Adult education

March 3, 2010

The press have picked up the story about the closure of adult education in Seaford, following the end of the sixth form.

See the Seaford Gazette: Seaford ‘short changed yet again’

Where will the axe fall next?

Adult education closure

December 4, 2009

The closure of adult education in Seaford is to be rubber-stamped at a meeting of the governors on 7 December. Given the supine position they took on the closure of the sixth form, it is hard to imagine they will do anything to derail the principal and the county council’s latest cut in education provision in the town.

See the Seaford Gazette’s report

Closure of adult education at Seaford Head?

October 23, 2009

The local newspaper reports that the adult education courses at Seaford Head, though successful, many of them over-subscribed, are threatened with closure.

Those who followed the story of the sixth form’s closure will not be surprised. If the closure is allowed to go ahead, then how can the school reasonably continue to call itself a community college?

School-leaving age to rise immediately?

January 7, 2009

The Guardian reports that the school leaving age is likely to be raised to 18 to keep the unemployment figures down:


This makes the decision to close the sixth form even more short-sighted.

Best ever GCSE results: student achievement thrown away by Seaford Head

August 21, 2008

“Students at Seaford Head enjoyed the best GCSE results ever achieved by the college, with the number of students with five-plus A* to C grades up by nine per cent from last year and the number with five or more good grades including English and maths up by three per cent ” says the Eastbourne Gazette.

This same year are the first to be denied sixth-form education at the school. The school is losing a great deal by sending these bright, high-achieving young people away.

The working party reports

July 22, 2008

Last week parents were sent a letter from the working party set up by the governors to look at the future of the sixth form at Seaford Head Community College. Unsurprisingly, they announce that the closure is to be permanent. What is unusual is their lack of any pretence at debating the arguments for a sixth form. The working party’s report is purely procedural, and doesn’t bother to argue the case for the closure. I conclude, as will many others, that the consultation was only a device to rubber-stamp a decision already taken.

There has been some press coverage of the end of sixth form education in Seaford. It is nearly a year since, after news of the closure leaked out, students and parents, with the support of local councillors and Norman Baker, the local MP. Teachers, though they expressed support privately, were too cowed to join us.

We may not have saved the sixth form, but we can be proud of what we achieved:

  • we exposed the endemic mismanagement at the school;
  • we challenged the cult of secrecy surrounding the way the school is run;
  • we demanded that governors be accountable to parents, staff, students and the town.

Thank you, everybody who contributed, who came on the march, who helped organise the meetings, who donated money to the campaign, to the journalists who unfailingly gave us press and TV coverage, and to those local politicians who stuck with the campaign. Those who lost interest, or changed sides, may find that voters remember this at next year’s local elections.

The Brighton Argus
Sixth form closure confirmed
Disappointment at sixth form closure
Sixth form closure confirmed

Consultation response: the necessity of change

May 2, 2008

I sent the response below to the consultation on the future of the sixth form. As well as arguing for the retention of the sixth form, and pointing out the serious flaws in the way the issue has been handled, I call for a fundamental change in the school’s direction and leadership.

Read the rest of this entry »

Consultation meeting: a fuller account

April 28, 2008

The meeting on the evening of Wednesday 23 April was unsatisfactory. Not one parent who spoke from the floor supported the closure, and none of the questions we raised were answered.

The school deployed a large panel to defend their decision. As well as Bob Brandley, chair of the governors, Lynton Golds, the head, and Carolyn Lambert, who chaired the meeting, there were the head of sport, a minute taker, two teaching assistants, a former parent, a tame pupil and Sheila Wiffen, head of the sixth form, but not for much longer. I’m not sure all the staff members were there willingly; several looked markedly uncomfortable and it was significant that they could not find a parent with children in year 11 to sit with them.

We were treated to a mind-bogglingly irrelevant presentation by the head of sport on plans for a sport diploma and a football academy. This, it seems, is the only post-16 activity there will be from this autumn onwards; the school has given up any hope of offering academic subjects, but hopes to save itself by offering what they inelegantly dub ‘niche’ courses. As one parent pointed out from the floor, other schools and colleges in the area already offer sport and football, so, bearing in mind Seaford Head’s lamentable failure to promote their existing courses, the initiative seems doomed. Another parent asked, but got no answer, what had happened to the school’s specialist status, which was supposed to include not only sport but also science.

There is no intention to offer anything to students who want to pursue academic subjects beyond GCSE. Students who want to go on to higher education will simply be ignored. Indeed, one of the panel, displaying the small-town philistinism that lies behind the closure, spoke disparagingly of what she called the ‘Oxbridge model’. No wonder Oxford and Cambridge have difficulty in attracting a broader range of applicants, faced with such attitudes.

Other questions included what effect the loss of the sixth form would have on teacher numbers, how the school’s ability to recruit and keep good teachers would be damaged, why the school had failed to market the sixth form in previous years, and what damage the loss of the sixth form would cause to the school’s academic and cultural life: productions such as the highly successful production of Oliver were unlikely to be possible in the future.

I questioned why the consultation had not taken place last autumn, when the important decision was taken, with no reference to parents, but got no real answer. The truth is that the school will only talk to parents when forced to.

School’s version of the consultation meeting

April 27, 2008

The school’s version of the consultation meeting may be found as a pdf at:


They are bizarrely worded, and certainly don’t record my comments, or those of other parents, accurately.