Downham Market Academy Sixth-form head denies claims of possible closure

Downham Market Academy Sixth Form
Downham Market Academy Sixth Form

The head of a West Norfolk secondary school has dismissed claims that the future of its sixth-form could be at risk.

Downham Market Academy’s (DMA) headteacher Rolf Purvis has instead insisted that they are “very keen to grow the sixth form” as part of “ambitious plans” for the academy.

It comes following claims made by South West Norfolk Labour Party chairman Patricia Binnersley that Mr Purvis had said the sixth-form could close if numbers were insufficient.

In a letter to the Lynn News, she alleged that parents and students were concerned to hear “clear hints” the facility could close at a sixth-form open evening last month.

But Mr Purvis has insisted the college, which is now under the provision of the Cambridgeshire Educational Trust, has a bright future.

“I made it clear from the outset the ambitions for the sixth-form. My view all along has been that West Norfolk needs high quality sixth forms,” he said.

“The numbers are lowish but it is viable. We are confident that our experience in Cambridge at Chesterton Community College shows we are growing, as Chesterton is in the top-16 schools in the country.

“We have high expectations that high quality teaching and learning will take place at the sixth-form and will allow it to grow as well.”

Anyone who has still concerns about the future of the sixth form should “come and talk to us”, Mr Purvis said.

“We are very open about our plans and we are proud of the work that goes on in the sixth-form. We will do our best to make it even better.”

As for the academy, things are already improving, Mr Purvis said, following the inadequate Ofsted rating it received in July.

“We have been involved with the school since July and a lot has happened in that time.

“When we came in July, there were lots of children on their mobile phones when they shouldn’t be, but today I am yet to see one.

“We have spent about £100,000 on redecorating all the classrooms which has made a big difference.”

It was important that parents, children and staff saw changes when they returned from the summer holidays, Mr Purvis said.

“The children never fail to impress, they are amazing and they are embracing these changes.

“That encourages me – they are a very talented bunch with huge potential.”