Claims Yate International Academy is being 'downgraded' as A-levels are dropped from the curriculum
Academy low: Unhappy parents Dave Oakes, Margaret Bond, Tim Bond and Sean Bidwell outside Yate International Academy
PARENTS of sixth form pupils have reacted angrily to news that Yate International Academy is to drop A-levels from its curriculum, the Gazette can reveal.
The Ridings’ Federation of Academies, which runs both Yate and Winterbourne academies, announced last Thursday (October 17) it would be concentrating all A-levels at the Winterbourne site and vocational and BTEC courses in Yate.
The federation said the change, which will take effect next year, followed a review of sixth form provision and took into account student needs, the high quality teaching available, market trends and government changes to both curriculum and funding.
But worried parents claim the move will ‘downgrade’ Yate academy, which unveiled its brand new £16million buildings including a health and beauty salon, engineering suite and construction rooms to Princess Anne in June.
Sean Bidwell, whose 16-year-old daughter Hollie is in Year 11 at the academy, said the announcement had come as a complete shock.
"To make a decision without discussing the changes with the people affected is totally wrong.Parents Sean Bidwell
“We were looking at her going into the sixth form then we had a letter home last week,” he said. “We knew nothing about it, they have just decided this is the best thing to happen.
"Even if they were just discussing it they should have informed parents what they were thinking. But to make a decision without discussing the changes with the people affected is totally wrong.”
Mr Bidwell, whose younger daughter, 11-year-old Caitlin-Rose is in Year 7, added: “The letter only went to Years 11, 12 and 13 so parents in years below know nothing about it.
“It is diabolical. We don’t know yet whether Hollie will stay on. To me they have downgraded Yate International Academy.”
Tim Bond, whose daughter Vicki, 15, is in Year 11, said: “She was hoping to do A-levels at Yate but with all these changes it is all up in the air and we have been to an open evening to look at Brimsham Green instead.”
He said the current situation gave students a chance to excel at every course they chose and an opportunity to train in a vocation as well as complete an academic course.
“I don’t want to run down BTECs, students are very lucky in Yate to have to have such fantastic facilities, but children should be able to have the choice to study A-levels in their school,” said Mr Bond. “This will cause divisions between the two sites.”
Dave Oakes’ 16-year-old daughter Phoebe wants to be a midwife and was planning to take a mixture of A-levels and BTEC courses.
“Qualifications for that are paramount,” he said. “We don’t want her having to sit A-levels in subjects she is not fantastic at. We are now looking at other places for her to go.”
As part of the changes a free bus, laid on between the two sites since Yate and Winterbourne became federated academies in 2009, will be scrapped. The federation said the £50,000 it costs to run could be better spent on education.
Thornbury and Yate MP Steve Webb has slated the changes.
“This is all too typical of the arrogant leadership that I have seen in the past from those at the top of the Ridings’ federation who seem to think they are accountable to no-one,” he said.
“It is disrespectful to pupils, staff and parents at Yate to impose this change without consultation and it adds insult to injury to then charge for a connecting bus service between the two sites.”
Academy spokesman Rob Phillips said the changes had been made with all students in mind and vocational courses were greatly valued by the federation.
“This change will provide all students with the best chance of gaining the best A-level and International Baccalaureate grades,” he said. “It will also ensure those students studying vocational-based subjects are doing so within a fantastic facility that is appropriate to the subject they are learning.”
- Yate International Academy currently only offers five A-levels
- Winterbourne International Academy runs 63 A-level courses
- 15.4 per cent of students at Yate academy achieved A*-B grades in 2013
- 48 per cent of steudents achieved A*-B grades at Winterbourne.
Mr Phillips said the changes were discussed by senior leaders of both academies and presented to the academy trust for a decision and notification was posted on the academy’s websites.
He said the changes would give students a greater sense of belonging to a particular site.
The number of Yate staff who will no longer be teaching A-level is very small but the federation is looking at opportunities for them to teach on the Winterbourne site.
Parent drop-in sessions are being held today and on Tuesday, November 5 (both 4.30-6pm) at Yate.
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