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First Minister says sixth forms should stay

2010 Mehefin 16 5:30 PM

Welsh Liberal Democrat Council group leader Mike Powell has welcomed the First Minister's commitment to maintaining choice in post sixteen education, a commitment which appears to be at odds with his Labour colleagues in RCT.

"In answer to a question from Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member Peter Black Carwyn Jones stated that there should be a choice as far as post 16 provision is concerned.

It will be interesting to see how this affects the plans of the Labour group in Rhondda Cynon Taff to close all sixth forms and replace them with three tertiary Colleges.

The plans, as I understand it, need Assembly approval, and as they directly affect a constituency covered by the current Minister for Education Leighton Andrews then that decision would normally be passed back to the First Minister.

After so clearly indicating that he believes in choice surely it would be difficult if not impossible for him to then even contemplate endorsing a plan which takes away that choice from our youngsters."

Peter Black is the Assembly Member for South Wales East - part of RCT is within his region. During First Minister's Question Time on 15th June he referred specifically to the RCT proposals and asked

" What is the view of the Assembly Government on the continuation of sixth forms? Will you propose that sixth forms should give way to colleges, or do you believe that there should be a mix of provision so that parents and pupils have a choice?"

In replying the First Minister stated that whilst he could not comment on specific proposals

"as far as post-16 provision is concerned, it is important that there is choice. How that provision is made is a matter for local education authorities. There is certainly no Assembly Government policy to bring all sixth forms to an end."

Plans are currently under consultation regarding the future of sixth forms. A report presented to Cabinet in November 2009 stated clearly that all sixth forms would be closed, and that this would lead to the closure of some Secondary schools altogether.