Proposal to temporarily suspend the sixth form of Wensleydale School The Wensleydale School and Sixth Form

The School has published a Consultation Document, pasted below.

Consultation on the proposed temporary suspension of Sixth Form provision for a period of up to two years.
The Governing Body is proposing to temporarily suspend sixth form provision at Wensleydale School and Sixth Form. The suspension would be effective from September 2023.

The purpose of this communication is to seek your views on this proposal. The consultation will run from 26th September to 24th October 2022.

The Current Position

Following their concern about the limited range of post-16 qualifications and courses , and related concerns about low post-16 pupil numbers and the school’s financial position, the governing body is consulting on a proposal to temporarily suspend sixth form provision . Given the withdrawal of government funding for school’s more vocational BTEC courses, the suspension is necessary to secure the interests of current and future pupils.

This decision to propose suspension has not been reached lightly, and not before alternatives have been considered. However, the period of suspension would allow time to assess the practicalities of continuing with post-16 provision, given the withdrawal of BTEC courses. This might be, for example, through collaborating with other Post 16 providers to make sure that specialist and diverse post-16 options will be available for all pupils.


In 2018, A Level teaching ended at Wensleydale School and the post-16 offer became the Business and Innovation Centre, with a focus on BTEC and CTEC qualifications in subjects including business, IT, sport, travel and tourism and health and social care rather than traditional academic courses.

As a relatively small secondary school, and with the government’s withdrawal of funding for the school’s BTECs, it is difficult for the school to offer a curriculum with the sufficient breadth required. In the recent Ofsted inspection, though judging the school as ‘good’, inspectors highlighted the post-16 offering had ‘narrowed’ and acknowledged this was ‘in part due to financial constraints’. Due also partly to the demographics of the area, post-16 numbers have decreased making it more difficult to maintain quality of provision and viable class sizes both in terms of subject breadth and financial viability.

Post-16 Pupil Numbers

The number of sixth form students at Wensleydale School and Sixth Form has been falling over the past few years to the point where the choice of courses and quality of experience that the school could provide was limited compared to the much wider range of vocational study routes offered at other FE colleges.

  Year 12 Year 13 Total
2009-2010 50   24 74
2013-2014 44   42 86
2016-2017 18   22 40
2017-2018 17   16 33
2019-2020 6   8 14
2020-2021 0   4 4

Large Post-16 Providers Provide a Wide Range of Options The next nearest sixth form is at Richmond School. However, traditionally many pupils looking to study A Levels have travelled to Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College in Darlington.

There are benefits for young people of going to a larger external sixth form. Several larger secondary schools across North Yorkshire have already made a change in recognition that their sixth form is unable offer the full range of A Level courses that larger post-16 providers can.

The range of practical courses and vocational qualifications offered by Further Education colleges in the surrounding areas has increased over recent years. These organisations, such as Askham Bryan Agricultural College and Middlesborough and Darlington FE Colleges, also offer specialist vocational facilities, and their size bridges the gap between school and employment. They have become very popular with local families who broadly feel these organisations provide the widest offer for post-16 education and ensure that students are placed on a pathway that meets their needs and interests.

Local Provision

It is proposed that the period of suspension would be used by Wensleydale School to strengthen links with these organisations in order to explore whether the school can provide local aspects of their vocational courses, such as work placements and functional skills.

We are proud that post-16 students following BTECs over the past four years have been offered an internship by local businesses and access to mentoring through partnership with the Lower Wensleydale Business Network.

While Wensleydale School is not large enough to support a wide range of post 16 courses, it makes good economic sense to offer these aspects locally in Leyburn and to make them available within reasonable travelling distance of the town.

The Governing Body is proposing to use the period of temporary suspension to explore whether local aspects of wider provision in larger establishments can continue on the premises through collaborations with FE Colleges. Having gathered the relevant evidence from providers, and undertaken a due diligence process, the Governing Body will take a decision on whether to proceed.

School Organisation Guidance on Making Significant Changes

At the end of the two-year suspension, if a proposal is made to close post-16 provision permanently, the decision maker would be the County Council (or the Regional Director if the school has become an academy).
Statutory guidance requires that any changes that are expected to be in place for more than two years are considered permanent changes and require a statutory process. For a community school like Wensleydale, the County Council’s Executive would be the decision-making body for a permanent change, and a further consultation would be required.

How will current Year 11 students be affected?

Year 11 students will continue to receive impartial post-16 careers advice. During Year 11 they will also have opportunities to meet with the post-16 teams from other providers in order to secure a smooth transition from Year 11 to post 16 education.

How will current Year 12 and Year 13 students be affected?

There are no students currently in Year 12.

The school is committed to its existing Year 13s and will provide them with all they need to successfully complete their course this year. Year 13 students will continue to be on the roll of Wensleydale School and have pastoral support whilst being taught at Wensleydale School.

Therefore the suspension will start in September 2023

How will Wensleydale students get to post-16 providers?

Using public transport, particularly for students living in the more sparsely populated areas of the Wensleydale catchment area, is not easy and can be challenging. Students attending post-16 courses in Darlington, for example, have tended to travel in to Leyburn on public transport and then catch the College bus provided by Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College.

Students who are currently in Year 13 will continue with existing transport arrangements for their lessons throughout Year 13.

Details of North Yorkshire’s Post 16 home to school transport policy is available on their website: and any parents who may wish to seek transport assistance, should seek advice on transport entitlement prior to applying for a place on a post-16 course.

What will happen next?

All views and comments on this consultation will be considered by the Governing Body before a decision is made to proceed.

If these proposals go ahead, the post-16 offering will be suspended for up to two years, while the school explores its options.

How do I make my views known?

Your views are important and we welcome the thoughts and responses of all members of the school’s community, on the response sheet provided with this document and returned to the school. All comments, suggestions or queries, can be e-mailed to the school’s admin team at:

Paper responses should be returned to Wensleydale School at the address below:
Sixth Form Consultation Response
Wensleydale School and Sixth Form
Richmond Road
North Yorkshire

The closing date for responses is Monday 24th October

All responses received by this date will be considered by the Governing Body

Anticipated Key Dates (subject to approval at each stage).


Consultation opens (4 weeks) 26 September 2022
Consultation closes 24 October 2022
Governing Body considers consultation responses November 2022
Sixth Form suspended. Explore options. From September 2023
Final decision on whether to continue post 16 provision During 2023/4 or 2024/5 academic year