THE borough’s first free school marked another major stage in its growth with the official launch of its Sixth Form centre.
Atherton Community School threw open the doors of the Robert Buckley Sixth Form Centre, which has been named after a former chair of governors who played a major role in bringing one of the pioneering free schools to Atherton.
The centre, which occupies a refurbished building on the site of the old Hesketh Fletcher school, specialises in the so-called stem subjects of science, technology, engineering and maths and also offers students the opportunity to develop future careers by working with businesses.
The centre, which opened in September, will take around 100 students in each year and will enable young people in the Atherton area to work towards A levels and BTECs without having to travel large distances across the borough.
Principal Elizabeth Haddock said: “It’s a fabulous building and offering a sixth form is vital.
“Young people in Atherton don’t have a sixth form on their doorstep and other colleges have supported our recruitment because they appreciate some students face long journeys and want something more local. We want to engage with the community and our students have already raised money for charity.”
The sixth form will be running at full capacity from September once the first intake of year 12 students move on to the second half of their post-GCSE studies.
The young people are all mentored by a business related to an area they would be interested in developing into a career, which prestigious names such as Bentley, Manchester University and the North West Ambulance Service already on board.
Around 66 per cent of the college’s courses are academic with the rest vocational, and Ms Haddock says she aims to deliver education appropriate to each student, encouraging the most able sixth formers to apply to Oxbridge and the Russell Group universities and helping others to find jobs and apprenticeships.
The new sixth form centre also includes leisure facilities.