Reform the sixth form market


There are currently separate processes for adding a sixth form to a maintained school, adding a sixth form to an academy and establishing a free school (16 to 19 or all through). In addition, the decision to add or create a sixth form is rarely linked to the current and future provision in non-school providers such as sixth form colleges. This lack of co-ordination was reflected in the government’s area reviews of post-16 education in England that focused on the viability of colleges but not school and academy sixth forms (where 40% of 16 to 18 year olds are educated).


As the number of 16 to 18 year olds starts to increase, the need to reform the process for establishing new sixth form provision will become even more pressing. This should be a single process focussed on the age range of students (16 to 18 year olds) rather than where they study (school or college) and should begin with an impartial assessment of current and future demand in each local area.

Once this has been established, a competitive process for establishing new sixth form provision should take place that is open to all types of sixth form provider. This is more likely to result in a sixth form solution that is right for each local area and is a more effective way of dealing with the national increase in student numbers. We urge the government to support our call for a more coherent, co-ordinated approach in this area as it is a pre- requisite to ensuring both value for money and high quality educational outcomes.

Get involved

We need the support of school and college leaders, governors, students, parents, teachers and support staff to make the campaign a success.  There are lots of ways to get involved, for example:

  • Write to your local MP to secure their support for the campaign (a full list of MPs is here)
  • Invite local MPs to your school or college
  • School and college leaders can write to parents to secure their support for the campaign 

A template letter to MPs for all four of our campaigns can be found here – please feel free to adapt the text and add specific examples from your own college or school.

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