Home Children and Young People Post 16 education options in Knowsley

Post 16 education options in Knowsley

by Guy Murphy

As Year 11 pupils are starting to plan their next steps, it’s important to know what options are available to school leavers in Knowsley. We’ve produced a handy guide to help you know what’s on offer.

This includes  some Level 3 courses  in Knowsley, provided through All Saints Catholic High School and Knowsley Community College, as well as a wealth of other learning opportunities.

What is happening around A Level provision in Knowsley?

The Council is working with providers to see if A Level provision could return to Knowsley, but the decision is outside of the Council’s control. Any application to deliver A Level’s  must be made by an Academy to the Secretary of State and the Regional Schools Commissioner.  It must have a strong business case outlining that it is financially viable, can be appropriately resourced and there is evidence to support demand for such a facility.

The last A Level provider, Halewood Academy sixth form, was closed by the Department for Education, Regional School Commissioner and Wade Deacon Trust in 2017 (with the Council having  no legal role in the  closure).

The Secretary of State retains responsibility for decisions in relation to the extension of an Academy to add a sixth form. Any secondary school would need to apply directly to the Secretary of State for permission to expand. Whilst the support of the Local Authority is seen as desirable it is not a critical factor in the decision making.

In 2019, the Council consulted with all six Knowsley secondary schools as well as three further education providers outside of the borough regarding re-introducing A Level provision.

Four out of the six secondary schools – each part of a multi-academy trust – and one Catholic High School could not extend their offer to include a sixth form as they did not meet the criteria defined by the Department for Education.

Two external providers did express an interest in developing a sixth form provision in the borough and scoping work commenced to consider both suitability and viability. Following this work, one provider was identified, however the pandemic necessitated this work to pause.

What is the Council doing now?

Since 2021, the Council has been working with schools, colleges, multi academy trusts and other providers to consider how post-16 educational opportunities can be extended.

Work with the interested external provider is also continuing.

The Council is clear in its ambition and intent for A level provision to return to the borough, alongside other Level 3 qualifications such as T levels, and is working with partners who, in line with Government policy and criteria, have the power and ability to open sixth form provision in Knowsley.

A Learning and Partnership Board has been established with representatives from the Council, Carmel College, Cronton and Riverside College and St Helens and Knowsley College, secondary schools and multi academy trusts. This partnership will ensure that young people and their families have access to information and support to inform their decisions around post-16 opportunities. It will also look to better understand  the needs of young people in Knowsley so that  a Learning and Skills Strategy is developed which outlines how partners will collectively create and deliver the best possible learning  opportunities for young people in Knowsley.