SFCA Chief Executive comment - A-level results day 2018

Commenting on today's exam results, SFCA Chief Executive Bill Watkin said:

“This year’s A Level and Applied General results show once again just how successful sixth form colleges are. Exam results are important and SFCA is delighted that so many students in colleges have done so well.

For example, at Prior Pursglove and Stockton Sixth Form College, 43 subjects achieved 100% pass rate, and students have secured their places at Oxbridge and Russell Group universities on highly competitive courses in Sciences, Medicine and Law.

At Brighton Hove & Sussex Sixth Form College, an incredible 70% of grades were at A*-B, and 57 students received an offer to study at Oxford or Cambridge University.

Students and their teachers have worked tirelessly and deserve proper recognition and celebration of their successes and achievements.

And let’s not forget the Applied General results. These vocational equivalents of A Levels are so important for young people’s skills. Problem solving, team work, communication and many more are an essential dimension of this vital pathway to higher education and the workplace.

But, it is not all about exam results. Damian Hinds, Secretary of State, spoke this summer of the importance of those wraparound experiences that make up an excellent sixth form education, and how important they are as levers of social mobility. On Sunday, Amanda Spielman, HMCI, spoke of her plans to introduce a ‘Quality of Education’ measure as part of Ofsted’s move away from a narrow focus on exam results, and to downgrade providers that appear to be exam factories and that ‘do not offer a rich education including art, music, sport and drama (2).

But this welcome shift in emphasis will need to be funded. SFCA has identified the risk, presented by the very low sixth form funding levels (3), to the additional services and support that are such an important part of sixth form education. It is wonderful that students have done so well in their exams today, but colleges are far more than exam factories. The government must increase investment in sixth form education to ensure that all young people can access the extra-curricular activities and support services they need to progress to higher education or employment.”


Notes to editors


  1. The Sixth Form Colleges Association is the established voice of dedicated sixth form education and the hub of a national network of sixth form providers. SFCA represents all designated sixth form colleges and 16-19 academies in England, as well as a growing number of Further Education colleges and 16-19 free schools. More information can be found on the SFCA website:


  1. There are around 160,000 students studying at a Sixth Form College and the sector is responsible for over a fifth (22%) of the A levels sat in England each year.


  1. For more information please contact Bill Watkin, Chief Executive of the Sixth Form Colleges Association: 020 3824 0468 or 07834 36 77 46