Farther education for Fareham

The Borough of Fareham is an area situated between Southampton and Portsmouth. Taking in the town of Fareham and a number of outlying towns and villages, the Borough Council can make some impressive claims.

The borough takes its name from Fareham, a market town with its own railway station, pedestrianised town centre, technology and business parks and excellent transport links. Nearby, ITV broadcast the news from Whiteley, a town in the borough. Swanwick is home to the London Area Control Centre, handling air traffic control for the South East. There’s a delightful castle in Portchester on the borough’s eastern edge.

Fareham Borough Council can boast that it governs a growing area of significant economic, cultural and historical importance in the affluent South East. 116,000 people presently call it home, a figure that’ll rise as the Solent City conurbation inevitably takes shape.

The council cannot boast that its borough produces good A level results, because the area it covers no longer delivers any.

In 2013, Fareham College, the last college to offer A levels, dropped the last of its A Level curriculum, claiming that a lack of interest drove the decision. While it’s true that Fareham students have often elected to study outside of the borough, it was merely an option prior to 2013. Now it is a necessity. Up to 2,000 people leave the borough daily to study A levels.

Most will incur travel costs. All will see their quality of life dip, losing hours per day to journeys they should not have to make. Free schools have been predictably feted as the answer, but have so far failed to deliver.

A new free school aimed at providing A level education has been planned, but has also been delayed. It’ll be 2018 at the earliest before Fareham’s students can take A levels in their own borough. At best, the 116K residents will only spend five years without local A Level education. This best case assumes that the present scheme will not fail. All others have.

In the meantime, students and parents will continue to bear the cost of the complete lack of provision. Theresa May was recently talking up the prospect of grammar schools returning . She and her government would be wise get their houses in order before attempting that ill-advised extension.

A Conservative-run borough, in a Conservative-controlled county, that doesn’t do A levels. May ought to address the basics before she tackling the complexities of creating a shitheap sorting hat for our nations’ eleven year olds.

Combined with the requirement for all children to remain in education, the only possible beneficiaries are free schools, transport companies and educational institutions in neighbouring boroughs.

Parents are out of pocket. Students are stressed and spending needless hours in transit that would be better devoted to study. Suella Fernandes, the town’s new Member of Parliament, raised the issue in her opening speech, but the issue should have never gotten this far.

Fernandes should not have to argue for the reintroduction of A level education in Fareham because it should never have been removed in the first place. A levels are an essential part our education system; the academic road to a university degree, and it doesn’t run through Fareham Borough Council’s turf anymore. It is a completely unacceptable situation for a borough of that size and population.

A levels must return to the Borough of Fareham as soon as possible, but it’s difficult to see anything changing soon.

Providing students with an academic further education must seem like a lot of fuss when you can just whack them on a bus and “fare ‘em”.