THE headteacher of a Herefordshire school says they decided to close the sixth form to cope with a huge increase in popularity lower down the school.

Alison Banner who runs Earl Mortimer College, Leominster, said applications have nearly doubled in the previous four years.

She said numbers started to shoot up after the school started offering free music and swimming lessons to students.

The increase in popularity means a continued focus on students in years seven to 11, Ms Banner said.


Proposals to close the sixth form have been published, with a consultation taking place between May 15 and June 19. The provision is likely to close this summer.

Ms Banner said: “It was a tough decision to close the sixth form but with the number of students coming through the door in year 7 it was no longer sustainable.

“In the last three years we have become among the most popular schools locally with applications from towns like Tenbury and further afield.

“We have invested heavily in our extracurricular offer by offering students free swimming and music lessons.

“We have students signed up for national projects, there is a nurture group helping students with their well-being and plans for a new autism base at the school.

“These are the things that our families want so have become our top priority. They have responded by making us their first choice.”

She said the lack of numbers in the sixth form was due to competition from outstanding local providers like Hereford Sixth Form.

She added: “The numbers were decreasing but that is because we have outstanding places like Hereford Sixth Form on our doorstep.

“They have 23 students receiving offers to either Oxford or Cambridge. It is inevitable that ambitious students at any school will be tempted to take up their offer.”

The consultation results will be delivered to governors for approval in July 2023, with a decision by the local authority to be made by September 2023.

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