University Academy Keighley's (UAK) sixth form has been proposed for closure.

The school has pointed to falling numbers of students entering the sixth form and a need to make "financial efficiencies".

But Keighley MP John Grogan said the news was a "great shame", adding it was important that 17 and 18-year-old Keighley students can continue studying within their own town.

Adrian Kneeshaw, UAK's executive head teacher, said: "Should the sixth form be closed at UAK, we'll continue to offer advice and guidance to ensure students have access to the best, most appropriate progression pathways available.

"This will include speakers from local sixth form providers, impartial and comprehensive careers advice and visits to further and higher education establishments."

UAK, in Green Head Road, Utley, has launched a consultation which closes on November 30. People wishing to comment can e-mail

Detailing the reasons behind the plans, Mr Kneeshaw added: "For a school to be able to offer meaningful breadth of provision in sixth form, it needs a threshold number of students.

"This is usually around 200. Due to the small numbers of students in year 11 over recent years, the numbers of total students within sixth form have been well below this threshold level and as such has not been able to offer proper breadth of provision.

"Total numbers within Year 11 this year and also in following years is lower than has been found historically, so there's little prospect of numbers in sixth form increasing to meaningful levels.

"Also, a recent sixth form review conducted by Bradford Local Authority made the recommendation that schools should discontinue sixth form provision.

"Instead, they should seek to forge strong links with specialist sixth form providers who could offer greater specialist knowledge, as well as having a more cost efficient structure to be able to support the reduced funding for sixth form students.

"As a result of this report, several new specialist sixth form providers have come into the city to make up for the anticipated loss of school sixth forms – which has already happened at several schools.

"Teaching courses within sixth form, notably advanced level courses, requires a great deal of specialist knowledge.

"Learning this specialist knowledge and expertise, especially at a time of significant curriculum redevelopment, takes a great deal of effort and energy and often detracts from a teacher’s ability to develop their teaching for GCSE courses.

"Therefore the discontinuation of sixth form at UAK will help eliminate this ‘opportunity cost’ for teachers and enable them to spend more time on improving their teaching at GCSE, which will have a positive impact on many more students.

"Finally, all schools nationally have and will be facing challenging financial circumstances due to a significant rise in costs.

"UAK has to make efficiencies to ensure it can continue to operate as a financial going concern.

"With its smaller class numbers and lower relative funding, sixth form provision is far more expensive than years seven to 11. So discontinuing key stage five provision will help safeguard funding and quality of provision in key stages three and four."

Mr Grogan responded: "UAK effectively stopped taking new sixth form students for A-level courses in September 2017. Now most students who were in the sixth form at that time have completed their studies, the school is consulting on closure.

"I accept that to have an effective sixth form you need a minimum number of students to offer a broad range of subjects. Still it is, I think, a great shame that one of three sixth forms in schools in the town and one with such great facilities is closing.

"The governors of UAK, in particular the sponsors Bradford University, now have a real responsibility to ensure the improvement of results lower down the school which has occurred in recent years continues.

"There's a strong case for greater co-operation between what's likely to be the three remaining providers of post-16 education in Keighley – Beckfoot Oakbank, Keighley College and Holy Family.

"It's important 17 and 18-year-olds in Keighley have good options to study in their home town. A significant number already travel to Halifax, Bradford, Skipton and beyond in search of the courses they want."

The Keighley News contacted four other local schools along with Keighley College, following the news that UAK's sixth form could shut.

A spokesman for South Craven School responded: "We've already developed a close relationship with UAK's post 16 students, and in the last two years we've enrolled a number of UAK students into our sixth form. These young people are enjoying real success with us.

"Our sixth form is very popular. We offer a wide range of subjects and welcome students from a diverse range of backgrounds and schools."

A spokesman for Holy Family Catholic School said: "We fully intend to continue with our sixth form. The school is committed to maintaining local provision for older students.

"We also strive to live up to our name and provide a strong family-based environment. We involve parents closely and a significant proportion of staff, including senior staff, lives in the town and is involved in local ventures.

"It's true that some students are ready to travel away from their home area and make the break to attend a sixth form college, giving them a fresh start.

"Equally for some, staying close to home, often in a school that has nurtured them since age 11, is a better option. We're wholly committed to keeping that avenue open to the young people of Keighley."

Heather Whitehead, director of curriculum at Keighley College, said: “We're continually expanding our education provision to cater to and meet the needs of the community.

"With an Ofsted grade of good with outstanding features, we're proud to be one of the biggest providers of apprenticeships, complemented by our industry accredited vocational courses.

"We offer a relaxed, caring and friendly environment to learn in, allowing students to thrive."