School may be out for summer but students whose plans have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic can still access help.

Places have been offered to the first students of the West Coast Sixth Form (WCSF), which will begin operation in September, but school leaders say it’s not too late for anyone whose original plans may have changed.

West Coast Sixth Form is a joint venture between The Whitehaven and Workington Academies and will focus on both traditional A Levels as well as a range of new vocational subjects. New studies covering performing arts, sport, business and IT have been well supported and staff have also been delighted with the high level of interest in the health and social care course.

Head of the new sixth form, Mark Bedford, said places had been offered to many students to study at both the Whitehaven and Workington sites. However, because of disruption caused by the virus, there were concerns some students were yet to finalise their plans for September.

This year’s GCSE exams were cancelled as the virus spread. Next month students will instead receive grades based on teacher assessments moderated by exam boards to ensure consistency across the country and with past years.

Mr Bedford said: “The last few months have been so uncertain for many students. Many are clear on what they will do in September but for anyone who feels they need more information before making a decision we just want them to know that it’s not too late.

“Our message is ‘talk to us’. It’s an important decision whether to go to sixth form, into work-based training or for an apprenticeship and we’ve got a team of people who are really well placed to make sure those young people have all the information they need to make a decision.”

Workington Academy is already recognised by Ofsted as a Good provider of sixth form education. Cumbria Education Trust wants to ensure students across West Cumbria are offered a greater range of choices.

Details of what the WCSF will offer are available on its website and inquiries can be emailed to

The new qualifications will be Extended Certificates, National Diplomas and Extended Diplomas equivalent to one, two and three A Levels, respectively. The sixth form will have its own uniform and free transport will operate between the two sites for those who need to travel.