Posted: Thu 7th Dec 2023

Number of Torfaen Students Heading to Hereford College Declines in Past Four Years /
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Dec 7th, 2023

THE number of students travelling from a Gwent borough to study in Hereford after their GCSEs has fallen over the past four years. 
In 2019 the number of students heading to Hereford College to continue their studies after finishing their schooling aged 16 in Torfaen was 116. But the latest figures, for those starting their studies in September 2023, show that has reduced to 81. 
The numbers were produced at Torfaen Borough Council’s December 5 meeting after Blaenavon councillor Janet Jones raised concern at what she said she had been told is “the large number of Torfaen students who are opting to take their post-16 higher education studies at Hereford College.” 
The independent councillor asked: “Is this because we have cut our sixth forms at our secondary schools, or because of the lack of suitable courses at Coleg Gwent, or because of poor tutoring? It really looks that we are failing our students.” 
But Cllr Richard Clark, the cabinet member responsible for education, said the figures didn’t support that – and he also criticised the “poor phrasing” of the question. He said describing tutors as “poor” in public didn’t reflect well on staff at Coleg Gwent’s Torfaen Learning Zone, in Cwmbran. 
He said the figures for this year are unverified but they are also a reduction on last year’s figure which was 89. 
He said that contrasted with 427 students who went on to the Torfaen Learning Zone and 228 who study at other Coleg Gwent campuses. The only sixth form remaining in Torfaen is at Ysgol Gymraeg Gwynllyw, in Pontypool, as it provies Welsh medium education, and 54 students are continuing their studies there. 
The Labour member for Croesyceiliog said councillors had taken the decision to close sixth forms, and move to a tertiary model, due to a “disparity” with schools in Cwmbran having sixth forms while most in the Pontypool area didn’t. 
He said the council isn’t aware of a “lack of suitable courses” or of any evidence of “poor quality teaching” leading to students travelling to Hereford. 
“Results at the Torfaen Learning Zone for the last academic year certainly show a quality,” said Cllr Clark who also added colleges are subject to the individual choices of students. “To be fair to Hereford they are very much in our schools pulling people in, they are businesses at the end of the day, and want bums on seats, not that I’m calling kids ‘bums on seats’ but you know what I mean.” 
Cllr Jones said her question wasn’t intended as a reflection on tutors “just poor wording for which I apologise.” 
The council was also told the authority has reviewed its post 16 learning partnership which identified the aim that Torfaen Learning Zone be the first choice for English medium students and Ysgol Gwynllyw for those learning in Welsh and supporting the transition from Year 11 to post 16 is a “key focus” for it. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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