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MILFORD Haven School will lose its sixth form as councillors narrowly agree that a formal notice to remove it be published. There were 30 votes for the removal of the sixth form and 22 against.

Pembrokeshire County Council’s first meeting of the full council since lockdown in March councillors agreed that the director for children and schools be authorised to publish a statutory notice to allow the school to remove its sixth form.

Cabinet member Cllr Guy Woodham said it had been a difficult decision but “allowing a slow and painful death over the coming weeks and months of Milford Haven sixth form” was wrong.

Public consultation on the future of sixth form provision at the school was held earlier in the year with “overwhelming” public support for its retention, following a request from its governing body concerned about post 16 viability.

There was 169 response to the consultation, 13 per cent supporting the proposal and 81 per cent against removing the sixth form, along with a petition to keep it open with 680 signatures.

Milford Haven School governors highlighted declining pupil numbers – 46 in January –  reduced curriculum options and provision not meeting the needs of learners.

There was support for keeping the sixth form from a number of councillors including Tom Tudor, Paul Rapi and Reg Owens, who said its removal would be a “tremendous loss to Milford Haven.”

Cllr Owens added that the governing body felt it had no other option and it was linked to “the attitude of the previous director of education to sixth form education in schools.”

A predicted increase in pupil number by 2024 was highlighted.

“This was always inevitable once we agreed to sing that memorandum of understanding with the college” and its viable pupil numbers, said Cllr Mike Stoddart.

Cllr Stephen Joseph added the school had suffered from a lack of investment and the state of the buildings had led to decreasing numbers and losing the sixth form would impact “future generations of this town and this county.”

The importance of choice and educational standards were highlighted by other councillors, including Cllr John Davies who said that outcomes would be improved by a focus on key stage three and four by a decision to “take away what’s left of the crumbs of the sixth form.”

A report to the meeting on Thursday, July 16 states: “Notwithstanding the obvious public support to maintain the sixth form at Milford Haven School, there is little evidence to demonstrate that the concerns of the governing body can be alleviated by maintaining the status quo. Consequently, it is considered that providing a maximum focus on compulsory 11-16 provision significantly outweighs the various arguments received as consultation responses for the retention of the sixth form.”

A level could be taken at Haverfordwest High or Henry Tudor School in Pembroke, as well as post 16 education options at Pembrokeshire College.

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