School sixth forms: an outdated luxury

Writing in the Guardian, Peter Wilby argues it is time to move beyond having sixth forms in schools and focus instead on dedicated sixth-form colleges. 

…To this day, many parents, teachers and politicians feel a secondary school isn’t a proper school unless it has a sixth form. The feeling dates back to the time when grammar and fee-charging schools had sixth forms but secondary moderns didn’t. Many of the comprehensive pioneers insisted that sixth forms were essential to the new schools if they were to be taken seriously. Schools for 11- to 16-year-olds, they argued, would lack status and confidence. Younger pupils would be deprived of role models and perhaps also of the best teachers.

The same attitudes dictate that nearly all newly created academies must have sixth forms. Ministers do not want these to look like second-class schools, lacking prestige and pulling power. “A successful school almost always has a sixth form,” said Andrew Adonis, Labour’s godfather of academies.

One result of the proliferation of school sixth forms, many barely sustainable economically, is that England still has only 93 sixth-form colleges and only one in five teenagers live within five miles of one. Colleges such as Portsmouth are starved of funds, having on average 18% less to spend on each pupil than a school sixth form.

Yet by most standards, the colleges are an unqualified success. Their A-level results are on average 10% better [pdf] than those of state school sixth forms and their pupils more likely to progress to Russell group universities and to universities generally. The colleges account for nearly a third of the most disadvantaged students entering university. Moreover, many (probably most) pupils welcome a fresh start at 16 in an institution designed specifically for older teenagers, allowing them to shake off the constraints of a school that (as they see it) deals largely with little children…

More at: School sixth forms: an outdated luxury

 

As ever, read the full article for Peter Wilby’s complete argument, but do you agree with him that it is time to get rid of school sixth forms in place of sixth-form colleges?

Please let us know why/why not in the comments or via Twitter…

 

It is time to replace all school sixth forms with standalone colleges?

 

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Categories: Further Education, Policy and Secondary.

Comments

  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove As long as provision is there great but I fear in some subjects (STEM?) this will make recruitment more difficult for schls

  2. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove As long as provision is there great but I fear in some subjects (STEM?) this will make recruitment more difficult for schls

  3. Mktadvice4schls

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove agree – I’d always choose to work in school with Sixth Form over 11-16. Also prefer it to 16-18 only.

  4. Mktadvice4schls

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove agree – I’d always choose to work in school with Sixth Form over 11-16. Also prefer it to 16-18 only.

  5. VictoriaJaquiss

    Sixth forms fulfil many functions other than the continuation of the exam factory. They are places of sanctuary, familiar places for students who need to spend time with their educational families. They give teachers a breathing space away from the hurley burley of the younger years. The older kids are role models (and usually good ones) for the littlies.

  6. The_Data_Adonis

    Itsdihere SchoolsImprove Many students want a local school sixth form, others with caring responsibilities need them. Choice in the system

  7. Itsdihere

    The_Data_Adonis SchoolsImprove Yes depends on desired destination. For my children college was perfect transition to university.

  8. Itsdihere

    The_Data_Adonis SchoolsImprove Yes depends on desired destination. For my children college was perfect transition to university.

  9. Itsdihere

    The_Data_Adonis SchoolsImprove But small school 6th forms can’t cater for diverse needs. Not viable. Needs more collaborative approaches.

  10. Itsdihere

    The_Data_Adonis SchoolsImprove But small school 6th forms can’t cater for diverse needs. Not viable. Needs more collaborative approaches.

  11. The_Data_Adonis

    Itsdihere SchoolsImprove for mine it was village sixth form for all three then on to uni for two work for third

  12. The_Data_Adonis

    Itsdihere SchoolsImprove for mine it was village sixth form for all three then on to uni for two work for third

  13. The_Data_Adonis

    Itsdihere SchoolsImprove agreed but medium sized (150 – 200) with quality compact offers can work very well

  14. The_Data_Adonis

    Itsdihere SchoolsImprove agreed but medium sized (150 – 200) with quality compact offers can work very well

  15. The_Data_Adonis

    Itsdihere SchoolsImprove agreed but medium sized (150 – 200) with quality compact offers can work very well

  16. Itsdihere

    The_Data_Adonis SchoolsImprove Choice is key. More great 6 form colleges need to be available to young people.

  17. Itsdihere

    The_Data_Adonis SchoolsImprove Choice is key. More great 6 form colleges need to be available to young people.

  18. Itsdihere

    The_Data_Adonis SchoolsImprove Choice is key. More great 6 form colleges need to be available to young people.

  19. Itsdihere

    The_Data_Adonis SchoolsImprove Choice is key. More great 6 form colleges need to be available to young people.

  20. The_Data_Adonis

    Itsdihere SchoolsImprove agreed but school sixth forms need funding plans to optimise formula funding too many don’t earn what they should

  21. The_Data_Adonis

    Itsdihere SchoolsImprove agreed but school sixth forms need funding plans to optimise formula funding too many don’t earn what they should

  22. The_Data_Adonis

    Itsdihere SchoolsImprove agreed but school sixth forms need funding plans to optimise formula funding too many don’t earn what they should

  23. The_Data_Adonis

    Itsdihere SchoolsImprove agreed but school sixth forms need funding plans to optimise formula funding too many don’t earn what they should

  24. Another case of someone believing that something visible, a change of structure, will help learning.  It’s what teachers do which makes the difference.
    Keep both and carry on.

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