New Ipswich sixth form centre backed

MOVES to open a new centre for more than 2,000 sixth form students in and around Ipswich has won support during a public consultation process.The proposed new South West Ipswich and South Suffolk (SWISS) centre for 14 to 19-year-olds would open in September 2010.

MOVES to open a new centre for more than 2,000 sixth form students in and around Ipswich has won support during a public consultation process.

The proposed new South West Ipswich and South Suffolk (SWISS) centre for 14 to 19-year-olds would open in September 2010.

It would replace the existing post-16 education at Chantry High School, Claydon and Thurleston high schools, Westbourne Sports College, and Belstead and Thomas Wolsey special schools.

A six-week consultation into the plans has just been carried out, generating around 1,000 responses. It won significant support, although concerns remain about public transport to the new site, which would be in London Road/Scrivener Drive, Ipswich.

The results included:

n A total of 88% of young people believed the SWISS centre will be a good place to learn.

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n 82% think there will be more opportunities.

n 45% think they would settle into the new centre better if their teachers came across too.

n 96% of people who responded said good public transport links to the centre would be essential.

Allan Cadzow, a director for children and young people's services with the authority, said: “The county council is committed to enabling all children and young people in Suffolk to aspire to and achieve their potential.

“The existing sixth forms and special schools have worked hard to maintain quality and offer a reasonably broad programme of provision.

“However, many of the classes are small in number and therefore financially difficult to maintain. Participation and achievement levels are below that which could be achieved in a larger and more diverse environment.”

The SWISS Centre would cater for 16 to 19 year-olds, with some part-time opportunities for 14 to 16-year-olds.

Suffolk County Council's Cabinet will meet on April 1 to discuss the plans, which are still awaiting funding approval from the Learning and Skills Council National Committee, and the responses submitted during the consultation period.

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