A MULTI-million pound college campus is to shut after just six years with the loss of up to 35 jobs.
Bolton Sixth Form College is to close its Farnworth campus — which opened in 2008 as a result of a campaign which involved the then Bolton South East MP Brian Iddon.
Principal Steve Wetton said the college had to make the “sad decision” because not enough students were applying to go there, choosing instead to go to the town centre campus.
He said it had been made after “extensive consultation with all staff and stakeholders over a two year period”.
Mr Wetton said: “After lengthy consultation we feel that this is the very best option to ensure the future success of Bolton Sixth Form College and further improve outcomes and success rates for all of our learners.
“The desires and needs of our students are always central to college policies and it is with regret that the reduction in Government funding will result in some redundancies.
“The college will provide all the necessary support and guidance to staff whilst we go through this period of change.”
From September, all students will be taught at the Deane Road campus.
Up to 35 teaching staff and support staff jobs could go as the college is forced to restructure — due to the closure of the campus together with government cuts and changes to post-16 education.
These include government changes to A-level qualifications, with young people having one less subject in their first year.
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Bolton Sixth Form College is to stop teaching BTEC level one and two courses as more students apply to study A-levels and level three courses.
This move is because more young people in Bolton are achieving higher grades in secondary school.
The college said retirement and not replacing staff could bring the number of job losses down, however, education chiefs have not ruled out compulsory redundancies.
The news of the closure and redundancies comes as Ofsted recently gave the college a top report, describing it as good with outstanding features.
Mr Wetton said staff would be “supported through the difficult time” — and he stressed that the college had worked hard to make the Farnworth campus work.
When the Farnworth campus first opened it was oversubscribed attracting 800 students. Now there are about 430.
Mr Wetton said: “Farnworth campus’ most successful year was 2009/10 before the town centre one was built.
“It was great, it was vibrant and had a good social side.”
The principal said that when the Farnworth campus opened there was no guarantee that a town centre campus would be built.
Figures show that so far only 10 out of the hundreds who had chosen Bolton Sixth Form College as their first choice for September had applied to attend the Farnworth campus.
The Farnworth campus will continue to be used for college musicals, dance and drama performances as well as staff training and meetings.
It will also be available to local residents and organisations for community events, while alternative arrangements are explored for it.
Centre was built after campaign backed by MP
- BOLTON Sixth Form College opened a new purpose-built £14 million campus in Queen Street, Farnworth, in 2008 to provide post-16 education for the south of the borough.
- It was built as the result of a campaign, which involved the then Bolton South East MP Brian Iddon, and work by the then principal Roy Whittle to provide post-16 education for young people in the south of the borough.
- The campus in Great Lever shut followed by the one in Smithills, once the town centre campus opened. The college campuses run almost identical courses.
- The Farnworth campus proved popular with students and was oversubscribed.
- When Bolton Sixth Form College opened its new larger £30 million campus in Deane Road in September, 2010, numbers began to fall as more students opted to go to the town centre campus.
- Bolton Sixth Form College has attracted up to1,800 students across the two sites, but with the closure of the Farnworth campus, numbers are expected to remain at about 1,500 — as student numbers fall nationally.
- Mr Wetton said the numbers of new post-16 centres opening up would be able to cater for students wanting to take level one and two courses.
- All Farnworth students, many of whom had originally applied to go to the town centre, will be moved to that campus in September.