AN MP is calling on the Government to fund a rural school sixth form for two years following controversial plans to suspend admissions.

Governors at Wolsingham School said they had no choice but to suspend the sixth form from September due to a large budget deficit.

On Tuesday, North-West Durham MP Laura Pidcock and acting headteacher Kate Morris met with the Secretary of State for Education to outline the “grave situation.”

The pair told Damian Hinds the great efforts staff had gone to to save money, but said funding cuts to post 16 education and the school as a whole – 25 per cent since 2014/15- had led to mounting debt.

Changes to the national funding formula, which puts greater emphasis on pupil numbers, was also cited as detrimental to rural schools.

Suspending sixth form admissions for two years will save £400,000 a year but Miss Pidcock said this was unfair to the young people of Weardale, many of whom will have to travel for more than two hours a day to continue their education. She described the meeting as “frustrating” with no answers provided.

“I told him that we need the Government to fund the sixth form for two years,” said the Labour MP. “There is a countywide review of education going on in Durham and this may present different options. Rural sixth forms will never attract as many pupils as those in towns but there are still a substantial number of young people living in these areas who should not have to leave their communities to access education.”

She added: “I won’t give up and will keep pressing for an adjournment debate on the sixth form every week.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said core school funding will rise to £43.5 billion by 2020, with some schools eligible for additional support from the‘sparsity funding factor.

“Across England, rural schools will gain on average 3.9 per cent through the formula, with those schools in the most remote locations gaining five per cent.Under the new formula, schools in Durham would attract a total increase in funding of £6.6m by 2019-20.”

However, according to the School Cuts website the county is expected to experience a loss “in real terms” of £8.2m by 2020. This takes into account inflation estimates and the Government’s illustration of the impact of the formula realised through the COLLECT system.