Barton Court has ditched its International Baccalaureate programme for money reasons caused by a declining uptake.
In a letter to parents before the Easter holiday, the grammar in Longport told them the programme ran at “a significant financial loss to the school”.
Since introducing the International Baccalaureate (IB) in 2007, the number of pupils wishing to take it has steadily declined. Just 17 of the 185 pupils starting Year 12 in September wanted to do the qualification, with the rest opting for the equivalent standard A-levels. They will now all do A-levels.
In the letter to parents, chairman of governors Dr Bill Speed said:
“The removal of the IB option makes a significant impact on the school budget as it means we can deploy teaching staff and resources such as classrooms more efficiently, without impact on the quality of teaching in any other areas of the syllabus.
Salaries of teaching staff constitute 65% of the school’s expenditure. I am sorry to have to communicate this news to you, and it is not a decision that governors have taken lightly, but I am sure you appreciate that one of the fundamental roles of the governing board is to ensure the astute financial management of the school.
Unfortunately the IB has, over the last couple of years, run at a significant financial loss that we can no longer sustain and we would be remiss in our duties if we did not take this difficult action at this time.”
The IB is an internationally-recognised course which leads to a diploma. With a wider educational span than the three or four A-levels most UK pupils take, the IB aims to provoke independent thought and creativity. Pupils must also complete a 4,000-word essay.
Despite there being some 190 UK schools and colleges offering it, some British universities do not accept it for entry onto their courses. Dr Speed says Dover Grammar School and Norton Knatchbull in Ashford had also witnessed drops in numbers for IB diplomas. He added:
“It is interesting to note that Barton Court is not alone in having to drop the IB from its syllabus, due to financial constraints and low uptake.
I also recognise the problems some students have had in getting it recognised by a small number of British universities and the additional burden that can be placed on students studying for the IB in terms of workload.
Therefore, I understand the reasons why many students make such a decision at this stage of their education.”
The decision to ditch the qualification was taken too late in the school year for parents to secure places for their children at other schools. But Dr Speed said:
“Staff will work closely with all students and parents to evaluate all available options, including relocating to another school where the IB may still be available if that is feasible.”
Dr Speed’s letter also reported that headteacher Kirstin Cardus has been appointed to the role of a national leader of education. It means she will be on hand to advise schools in difficulty. Ms Cardus said:
“As an Ofsted outstanding school, it is important to share our expertise wider than our own gates and to share ideas and learn from others. No school is an island and we have a genuine desire to help other schools improve so that more children can benefit from an outstanding education.”