Secondary school sixth forms throughout Ceredigion are under threat of permanent closure following this week’s shock announcement that the county’s post-16 education delivery is under urgent review.

.A total of six schools across the county – including Cardigan Secondary School and Ysgol Bro Teifi in Llandysul – are in danger of having their sixth forms axed after Ceredigion County Council claimed Welsh government funding is currently ‘not sufficient’ to maintain the status quo.

This is largely the result of a sharp decline in the number of students who choose to return to secondary school education following their GCSEs. The number of Year 12 learners throughout the county has fallen from 535 in 2014-15 to just 390 in 2020-21.

But the cost of continuing to run the courses in the current financial year is escalating. The total spend will amount to just under £4.2m, which is almost £400,000 more than the Welsh government grant.

Ceredigion County Council is currently considering a two-option solution, both of which will be considered in further feasibility studies.

The first option is to retain the current sixth forms but establish a strategic board to manage the post-16 budget and the joint planning of the curriculum.

The second option to close each of Ceredigion’s sixth forms and replace them with ‘a centre of excellence’ at one or more sites within the county. If this option is adopted, then a new governing body would look after the funding and its curriculum.

“It’s sad to think that our children may not have the chance of finishing their education in the schools which they’ve been attending since Year 7,” commented Mari Evans, whose son, Elis, is a Year 9 student in Cardigan Secondary School.

“By having consistency, the pupils get to know the teachers, the teachers get to know the pupils and the pupils become accustomed to the way in which that particular subject is taught. And this must be beneficial when it comes to A level preparation.”

Mari Evans is also concerned that the distances which pupils may have to travel to attend the Centres of Excellence could deter pupils from continuing with their sixth form studies.

“It would be a great shame if students felt forced to abandon their studies, just because they had to travel great distances to attend their places of learning," she said.

" But on the other side of the coin, the quality of teaching that those centres will provide could be excellent, so they could ultimately be to the students' benefit.

“Whatever lies ahead, let’s hope that the best educational interests of our children are considered before any major changes are made.”

The schools that are in danger of losing their sixth forms are Ysgol Gyfun Aberaeron, Ysgol Bro Pedr (Lampeter,) Penglais School (Aberystwyth), Ysgol Gyfun Penweddig (Aberystwyth), Ysgol Bro Teifi (Llandysu) and Ysgol Uwchradd Aberteifi, Cardigan.

Meanwhile Cardigan mayor, county councillor Sian Maehrlein has stressed that both proposals will be carefully scrutinised before any final decisions are made.

“We have to wait for the results of the feasibility study and there is a great deal for our councillors to consider once we have further information,” she said.

“But whatever the conclusion, any changes will not happen overnight.

“It’s vital that any proposals are thoroughly scrutinised, and that the young people of Ceredigion are at the forefront of any decision that is made."