Academy keen to take over college campus

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Warden Park Academy would like to take over Central Sussex College’s Haywards Heath campus.

The campus , in Harlands Road, will close in 2017 after the college announced it could not manage its £25million mortgage debt.

Since the announcement, Warden Park has made clear its desire to provide post-16 education in the area – and the debt appears to be the only major sticking point preventing the possible usage of the £30million site.

Headteacher Jonathan Morris said: “We would, of course, be delighted to be able to use the purpose-built sixth-form building and see this as by far the best option in order to realise our proposal for an area-wide sixth-form.

“At the moment we are working towards this aim. Beyond that we would not rule anything in or out.”

He added: “The current building is an amazing facility but, as has widely been reported, it has a large mortgage on it. The Department for Education will need to ‘manage this’ if the building is to remain in education.”

The Sussex Learning Trust (SLT), which runs the academy, received more than 1,000 responses to an online questionnaire seeking the views of local people about post-16 education provision in Mid Sussex.

The response was such the trust was able to give wings to its fledgling plans, announcing it would like to offer courses in health, business and social care.

Mr Morris said the arts were “absolutely integral” to the academy’s plans and he envisaged a range of A-levels and vocational provision covering performing and visual arts.

He added: “The facilities at the college are exceptional and we will utilise these fully for our students, in addition to encouraging community use.”

The government recently carried out an area review of sixth-form provision in Sussex and is due to publish its findings shortly.

While the SLT predicted they would say no further provision was needed, it disagreed.

A spokesman said: “The Haywards Heath sixth-form used to be full, vibrant and successful. The population is growing and so we think students should not have to travel expensively across county and out of county to attend their studies.”

A spokesman for the Department for Education said as part of the area review it was supporting colleges to “put plans in place that will enable them to secure a strong and sustainable future”.

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