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Schools will struggle as leaving age rises, head warns

A SOLIHULL headteacher has warned schools may struggle to cope as the minimum age to leave education or training rises to 17 next year.

A SOLIHULL headteacher has warned schools may struggle to cope as the minimum age to leave education or training rises to 17 next year.

With it set to rise again in 2015, to 18, the head of Heart of England Academy Andrew Mackereth, says schools desperately need funding to cope with the numbers of extra pupils staying on.

“Effectively, I’m going to be taking on another 200 students, on top of the 1,350 I already have,” he said.

“I need somewhere to put them; safe, social places, and to be able to offer the subjects that will meet their needs. While I want to see my school grow, and my sixth form buoyant, my first responsibility as an educator is that my pupils are following a course that is meeting their future aspirations.

“When first suggested, it sounded like it would be supported by policy, guidance and funding but it’s been one of the biggest non-events of the past few years. Putting it crudely, where’s the money coming from for this?”

Councillor Norman Davies, (Lib Dem, Olton), raised the issue at last week’s children and young people meeting, but was told there were currently no plans by Solihull Council to help local schools cope financially.

“It’s potentially a huge problem,” he said.

Mr Mackereth said extra pupil numbers would put a strain on teachers as the academy could not afford to take on extra staff.

“With the enormous reforms to school funding really starting to bite, the idea of taking on additional staffing is just beyond us.

“In order to meet these new requirements, the school governors and I may have to review what we offer now.

“Which means we might have to stop offering some courses to be able to make these additional, and lower level courses available.”

 

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