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Parents and union protest over sixth-form merger

Protestors against a proposed merger of a town's sixth-form provision have stepped up their campaign by lobbying schools minister Vernon Coaker.

The parents, along with teaching union the NASUWT, are strongly opposed to plans to close the sixth forms in four schools in Tamworth, Staffordshire. They will be replaced by a single centre at a newly built academy.

Staffordshire County Council's proposal has been met with anger by Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, who said at least 70 teaching jobs were at risk.

A series of strikes at the schools affected have already been staged and union officials have not ruled out further industrial action.

Under the plans, the sixth forms at Belgrave High, The Rawlett School and Wilnecote High will be closed. Woodhouse Business and Enterprise College will be turned into the Tamworth Academy and will house a centralised sixth form.

Parents from the group Hands Off Tamworth Schools met Mr Coaker last week to press their case.

One parent, Carolyn Lang, said: "We are very concerned that there will be only one option for pupils post-16. Parents and students will have no choice about where to go.

"We want the minister to look at the model with the council and get them to revisit the proposal."

Parents claim that the number of specialist courses on offer will be cut under the proposals.

But the council has said that creating one large sixth form will give pupils greater choice and create better facilities. A "campus" feel will also prepare pupils for the transition to higher education, it said.

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