College says axing A-levels was right

Exterior of Leigh Sixth Form Centre, Leigh Sports Village, Leigh - Wigan and Leigh College have decided to scrap A-Levels at this centre
Exterior of Leigh Sixth Form Centre, Leigh Sports Village, Leigh - Wigan and Leigh College have decided to scrap A-Levels at this centre

WIGAN and Leigh College has said its decision not to enrol students on AS-level courses at the Leigh campus was “the right thing to do”.

The college sparked fury after young people who had hoped to study A-levels at the Leigh Sixth Form Centre were informed courses would no longer be running and they would receive assistance to find alternative provision.

However, the college said the numbers wanting to study A-levels in Leigh had fallen so low the courses were no longer viable, with only one or two students signed up for some subjects.

The college, which stopped teaching A-levels at its Wigan campuses in 2007, says it will carry out a full review of the Leigh site’s future but stressed the vocational courses offered there remain extremely popular.

Wigan and Leigh College principal Michael Sheehan said: “It would have been morally wrong to have enrolled new students to courses where we could not guarantee the quality of provision.

“We accept this is a very difficult set of circumstances, but everything we have done has been with the best interests of the people of this borough at heart.

“Asking why people couldn’t have been informed sooner is a very fair question, but it had not been systematically considered before the enrolment arrangements crossed my desk.

“We think we have done the right thing, the honourable thing and the moral thing.

“Some of our governors are Leigh people through and through and they are in no doubt this decision is the right one.”

The college said only 44 students turned up to enrol for AS-levels at Leigh, considerably down on its own expectation that less than 80 young people would want to join the courses.

The college also comprehensively rejected claims made in an open letter that staff were devastated by the decision and hundreds of students were turned away from courses which would have been vibrant.

Executive director for HR Louise Brown said: “As soon as we were able to do so we met the staff as a group and talked through the decision.

“We have discussed other deployment opportunities across the college and talked to them about their personal circumstances.”

Mr Sheehan added: “We would reject suggestions we have not treated the staff appropriately. We have offered full support and continue to do so.”