FORMER teachers have spoken out against a plan to set up a sixth-form college in order to bring A-levels back to Fareham.
Suella Fernandes, MP for Fareham, is working with Cams Hill School headteacher Gwennan Harrison-Jones, to form a working group to complete an application to set up a free school.
The school, the location of which has not been decided, would cater for between 500 and 600 students.
It would be the only establishment to offer A-levels in borough, and would give a choice to the 2,000 young people who leave Fareham each day to study in Gosport, Winchester and Eastleigh.
But Fareham Labour Party has hit out against the plans, as has Tory councillor and former teacher Peter Davies.
Jim Carr, Fareham Labour Party chairman, who is also a former teacher, said: ‘Miss Fernandes’ comments are very astute for someone who had only lived in the area for just over six months.
‘Fareham currently has no A-level provision. The closest college is in Gosport.
‘That said there is a more pressing need for primary and secondary school places all across the constituency.’
Fareham College dropped A-levels in 2012 due to low numbers.
Cllr Davies, who represents Fareham North West, also warned about setting up a new sixth-form college.
He said: ‘Miss Fernandes is basing her views on her experience at an independent school in London.
‘This is her experience in London, not Fareham.’
Cllr Davies said he feared that to make A-level provision work, it would need to have at least 250 students in each year so that it could offer a range of subjects.
He also said the facilities would need to be of a high quality to be compete with colleges such as Barton Peveril and Peter Symonds.
He said: ‘Anything in Fareham has got to be able to compete with those colleges to give a good deal.
‘Yes Fareham needs a sixth-form college as it used to have, but it needs appropriately-qualified staff with a large enough number of students. ‘I do not support tacking a sixth-form college on to a comprehensive school.’
Miss Fernandes, who is also a member of the government’s education select committee, said bringing the qualification back to the area was one of her top priorities.
She said: ‘While I understand not everyone may share my view on this, bringing A-levels to Fareham is a priority for me and for lots of parents and young people.
‘With so many students travelling long distances to get the education they deserve, the need for local options seems pretty clear.
‘It won’t be easy, but we have a lot of support from the community, and it’s something I’m committed to pursuing.’
A working group is being set up to meet the March deadline, and start A-levels in 2017. To get involved email firstname.lastname@example.org.