Sixth forms in Powys, including those at Machynlleth’s Ysgol Bro Hyddgen and Llanidloes High School, need a shake-up for provision to be sustainable, a Powys County Council committee has heard.

Falling pupil numbers have led to issues around funding and subject provision across sixth form education in the county, and a report to the authority’s Learning and Skills Scrutiny Committee said that required both short-term and medium-term changes.

That could see a reorganisation of sixth forms with options of forming partnerships, establishing ‘area’ sixth forms or providing independent sixth forms.

No detailed proposals have yet been drawn up ahead of a consultation, so it is not known if there could be consideration given to closing sixth forms.

In the short-term, the council wants to increase digital learning, provide a new brand and revise the post-16 education funding formula.

The report said: “Whilst it may be possible that the short-term solutions can help improve the sustainability of the system in the short-term, the evidence suggests that a more ambitious solution is required.

“The current structure of eleven sixth forms delivering to around 1,000 pupils doesn’t enable the creation of a critical mass in more than one of these sixth forms.

“This doesn’t enable the system to be able to provide the breadth of provision that young people are entitled to have, without the necessity of additional inter-school travel or the use of technology.”

The report adds that changes will have to be made to protect sixth form education in Powys.

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