A 300-year-old legacy has come to a quiet end at a Poulton college as the last of its students move on to bright new pastures.
Students at Baines Sixth Form on Highcross Road painted a mural of their most treasured memories of their college years, which will be put on display in the main school building, before leaving last month.
They will gather at the sixth form for the last time on August 15, when with bated breath they will open the envelopes containing their all-important exam results.
Head teacher Alison Chapman said: “It’s a sad end to a legacy, but as times change schools have to reinvent themselves and move with the times.
“That’s one of the reasons we got the mural - because I never want people to forget that the school had a sixth form.
“There are thousands of students who have gone on from the sixth form and have had their lives shaped by it. Many of our pupils come back and share their skills with the younger pupils. One member of staff has nine generations of family that have come through the school.
“This year group has been tremendous and have really glued as a year group, and I’m sure they will have a strong bond in their future lives.”
Baines announced plans to close its sixth form in March last year following a consultation.
It had been facing financial hardships due to falling student numbers.
Head boy Sam Dow, 18, was one of just 21 students who attended the sixth form for his A-levels this year. He said: “Because there were so few of us. we became a really close-knit group. It was quiet at times. Sometimes you’d be the only one in the common room.”
Senior prefect Beth Waring, also 18, added: “We were like a big family. Because our class sizes were so small he had such good relationships with our teachers.”
The college’s common room will be transformed into a drama studio.
The study room will be turned into a classroom and a community room will be set up in honour of James Baines, who founded the school in 1717.
Business and economics teacher Sharon Wright, who worked for 19 years at the sixth form, said: “ The sixth form was always very busy and vibrant. I remember once there being concerns that there wren’t enough chairs in the common room because there were so many students. We were taking in as many as 200 or more.”
Geography and travel tourism teacher Antony Mycock, who also has 19 years at the college, said: “The academic was always celebrated massively, but also charity and becoming ready for the big, wide world was always important.
“What stands out the most to me are the charity events that have taken place. We have a coast to coast bike ride each year that has raised over £150,000 for cancer charities over the years. We became the biggest school supporter of the Teenager Cancer Trust.
“It’s a little bit sad that it’s come to an end because I love teaching the older students, because that’s where they stretch their abilities and their questions are always fab. But I understand that it’s part of the natural evolution of the school.”
Mrs Chapman said: “For the majority of our students, this is the end of seven years at Baines. Some are going to university, some to apprenticeships, some travelling, some in jobs. It’s lovely to see them as confident young people going into the world.”