EDUCATION chiefs have agreed to allow the closure of the sixth form at Applemore College in Dibden Purlieu.

Governors proposed ceasing education for over-16s from September 2008.

But Hampshire's School Organisation Committee (SOC), an independent body made up of members elected from representatives of the local education community, decided to allow an early closure.

Applemore chairman of governors Sylvia Barns explained that the lack of sixth form students wanting to come to the college was unsustainable and uneconomic.

It follows an Oftsed inspector's report last year which noted class sizes were small, "teaching and learning had been inadequate" and the sixth form offered "poor value for money".

Results had been "erratic" and the main school had been subsidising the sixth form.

No public objections were raised to the closure plan, which has the support of Hampshire County Council and the Learning and Skills Council.

Newly appointed SOC chairman Sylvia Vine said the move was agreed after about an hour-and-a-half of discussions.

She said because there was no new intake, the sixth form could close on July 31, 2007, after the present crop of fewer than 20 students completed their courses.

Alternative sixth forms at Totton College, Brockenhurst College, Taunton's College, Hardley Sixth Form Centre and Southampton City College were cited as future alternatives to Applemore.

The 700-pupil college has bounced back from previously critical Ofsted reports under the leadership of new head Matthew Longden.

It is now seen by inspectors as making good progress with a clear recovery plan to tackle a large financial deficit that had built up.

Governors previously said the sixth form closure would mean fewer teaching hours but hoped "any reductions in staffing can be managed without redundancies".

Nobody at the college was available for comment.

The college is holding an open evening for prospective pupils on Thursday, October 5, between 7pm and 9pm.