CARTERTON Community College will take on pupils for post-16 studies for the first time in its 40-year history from September.

The school was given permission by Oxfordshire County Council last week to proceed with plans to teach courses beyond GCSE.

Currently, the school is the only secondary in West Oxfordshire which only takes pupils between the ages of 11 and 16.

The school’s community director, Graham Speke, said staff were delighted that it was now going to be able to offer A-Levels and level three BTec courses from the next academic year, rather than pupils having to transfer to other schools or further education colleges outside the town to continue their studies.

In September, the Upavon Way school will offer A-Levels in English, maths, history and geography and BTec courses in creative media, art and design and sport.

Further courses would be added over the following two academic years.

Mr Speke said: “We have only had pupils between the ages of 11 and 16 since the school started in the 1970s. And we have always suffered, as a community and town.

“There was that perception that it wasn’t quite the same as the other places.

“Pupils have always gone somewhere else post-16, so when mums and dads are choosing schools for their kids at age 11, it can really affect where they want to send them if they will have to change again at 16.

“This will now put us at an equal level to other schools and colleges in the area and it will be a real positive for the town and wonderful that children will no longer have to travel elsewhere when they get to this stage.”

It is estimated that by 2018-19 there would be more than 800 students at the school, with 140 of those on post-16 courses.

Currently, there are about 25 students who are planning to stay on at the school after taking their GCSEs this summer.

Mr Speke added: “We anticipate there will be about 30 to 40 post-16 pupils in the next academic year and at the moment we have recruited about 25.

“Naturally, students at the moment will be unsure about what’s on offer and what it will be like, but come 2015 we will be able to offer more subjects and we will be more attractive to them.”

The county council’s cabinet gave its consent for the proposal at its meeting on Tuesday last week.

The governors will now publish detailed plans for post-16 courses, before the county council gives its final consent, although this is expected to be a formality.