THE head of an embattled sixth form today revealed the school is taking legal advice over plans for its closure as part of a huge £250 million overhaul of secondary education in Burnley and Pendle.

John Swarbrick said St Theodore's RC High, is looking into appealing against the decision to approve the Building School for the Future scheme, which will see the end of the area's only Catholic sixth form.

Mr Swarbrick was speaking after Roman Catholic priests in the St Gregory's Deanery, which covers Burnley, Pendle and Todmorden, handed letters to parishioners backing the plans approved on Thursday.

The letter, distributed at weekend services in the 12 parishes, said priests welcome the approval of the plans and hope people would back the scheme.

Father Michael Waters, spokesman for St Gregory's Deanery said: "There has been a vigorous debate about the proposals in our Catholic community and we recognise that many will feel disappointed and apprehensive.

"We think, however, that these arrangements will be of long-term benefit to the education of all our Catholic children."

The proposals were passed unanimously at a meeting of Lancashire County Council's Independent Schools Organisation Committee, made up of representatives of the Local Education Authority, Church of England, Roman Catholic Salford Diocese, schools and the Learning and Skills Council.

The plans will see the 11 ageing secondary schools in Burnley and Nelson replaced with eight new super schools. Although there will be a RC high school there will be no Catholic provisions for post-16 education.

Following the announcement campaigners vowed to "explore every avenue" in their bid to keep a Catholic sixth form.

Mr Swarbrick said he was not surprised by the statement because the priests had to back the Bishop, the Rt Rev Terence Brain, Bishop of Salford.

He added he had received more letters of support following the decision and expected a decision on the feasibility of legal action soon.

Mr Swarbrick said: "I have not got a problem with that, they can write what they want. My job is to look after the children and their families.

"We are taking legal advice but we are not going to waste anyone's time. If we have a chance we will pursue it.

"The public has always supported us and the parents in the Catholic community who want post-16 education are quite shocked by the clergy's stance."