Staff and students in shock after Havering College of Further and Higher Education pulls its A-level courses

Pupils will now longer be able to start A-level courses Havering College

Pupils will now longer be able to start A-level courses Havering College - Credit: Archant

Staff and students at a Havering college have this week been told that A-levels will no longer be taught at the school - just weeks before lessons were due to start.

Havering College principal Maria Thompson

Havering College principal Maria Thompson - Credit: Archant

The shock announcement by Havering College of Further and Higher Education, means pupils have been left scrambling to find alternative courses to attend and teachers fear redundancies are looming.

There are now no longer any courses available in the borough for those aged over 18 starting their A-levels from September.

Just last week the college posted on its Facebook page: “Getting your GCSE Results on Thursday? We have lots of courses for you to choose from. Come to our Ardleigh Green Campus to enrol NOW.”

The news came the day before GCSE results were announced today (Thursday).

A message on the college’s website said the “difficult decision” was made “in response to this year’s AS-level results which have fallen below the college’s high standards across all its provision”.

Maria Thompson, principal of the college, said: “This year’s A2 students can be assured that that they are not affected and will be able to complete their studies. We are only withdrawing AS-level courses and the A2 courses will not stop until the following year.”

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A letter sent to staff, from assistant principal Jenny Probert, said: “Students planning to start A-level courses in September will be offered alternative provision, such as BTEC Level 3 qualifications.

“The full implications of this decision are not yet fully considered. I will continue to meet with you to keep you informed.”

The dad of a student who was planning to start the college in September, said: “She was interviewed and all ready to start. She was counting down the days until her course started.

“The recommendation is for her to go to sixth form, but at 20, she will be too old to join it, so there is no provision for her to study her A-levels locally.”

A teacher said the first he heard about the changes was when he received the letter.

He said: “We have heard no mention of this before today. I know they have been interviewing students since March and offering places in to the A-level course. But why offer them if there will be nothing there?

“There are so many people who will be seriously inconvenienced by this. It affects about 30 to 40 staff, some of which are specialised A-level teachers, so we don’t know if there will be redundancies as a result of this.”

He added: “I may not have a job come September and I haven’t been told about this. And some students will be finding out about these changes the day before they are due to get their GCSE results.”

Louise Speigel’s daughter was due to start four AS levels at the college next month.

She said: “She opened the letter and burst out crying. It was such a shock. This is a stressful enough time as it is, but now it is just chaos trying to find another place for her to study.”

Corrine Wilson, whose 16-year-old daughter Mackenzie had been due to start A-level courses in English literature, art, psychology and sociology next month, said she was “torn between being angry and being completely stressed out”.

“How can they do this just a day before enrolment and a month before they’re meant to start college?” said Corrine, of Collier Row. “I’m in disbelief that they’ve left it so long.

“They say BTEC courses are accepted at 95 per cent of universities, but my daughter wanted to do A levels.”