Anger as college scraps A-levels

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PARENTS have reacted furiously after Wigan and Leigh College made the shock decision to scrap A-levels at one of its campuses.

The college faced a backlash after pupils turned up at Leigh Sixth Form Centre on GCSE results day only to be turned away, saying demand for the AS-level courses was too low.

Young people who had hoped to study at the college’s facility at the Leigh Sports Village (LSV) were instead told they had to look elsewhere, with other colleges from across the borough attending the enrolment day to help those requiring further advice.

The move prompted an angry response from Leigh MP Andy Burnham, who branded the decision to axe courses as “unacceptable”.

“I am clear: I will not accept a situation where young people from Leigh who want to study A-levels should be forced to travel long distances every day to do so,” he said.

“Many will simply not be able to afford it and will drop out of education altogether.”

Parents also strongly criticised the timing of the announcement, saying Wigan and Leigh College should have made them aware of the situation before pupils came to enrol for their A-levels.

Lynda Finney, from Hindley Green, said: “I’m devastated. My daughter and I spent ages going round all the colleges and she really liked the Leigh campus because it was really welcoming and supportive. It’s also got a fantastic art room and she got an A grade in her art GCSE, so she was looking forward to studying that.

“I’m disgusted, I just think they should have let us know so we could have prepared ourselves. The atmosphere at the college was awful and a lot of people were clearly very upset.

“What also disgusted me was that the principal wasn’t there on enrolment day to explain the situation to people himself.

“My daughter has now decided to do a BTEC in health and social care because the Leigh campus is where she wants to go, but she originally wanted to do A-levels and I still don’t know if that is the right decision. Only time will tell.”

Keith Hampson from Ashton said the decision meant his granddaughter Charlie will now face a long journey to Salford to study at Pendleton College for the next two years.

Mr Hampson said: “What the college has done is totally wrong, in my opinion. It’s not fair on the students to wait and see how many people apply and then decided not to do it because it’s not hit its target.”

Wigan and Leigh College said in a statement that the decision to axe A-levels at Leigh was due to falling demand.

A college spokesman said: “Wigan and Leigh College has reviewed its AS-level programme at the Sixth Form Centre in Leigh in the light of a very low number of applicants.

“We have taken the decision not to enrol students on to AS-level courses for 2014/15. The number of students on the AS-level programme is projected to fall to such an extent that it is no longer possible to guarantee a quality learning experience for students.

“The college has supported AS applicants to find suitable alternative courses either at Wigan and Leigh College or at other providers.

“There are a range of other courses available at the college’s Sixth Form Centre in Leigh and they will not be affected by this decision, which is solely in relation to AS Levels.

“Moreover, the college is committed to its Leigh centres and intends to develop new provision there that will meet the needs of local people.”