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Schools without a sixth form - what happens next

(13 Posts)
BoringSchoolChoiceNickname Thu 08-Sep-11 15:24:49

Everyone was really helpful on my other thread, but I still have one unanswered question, which I thought I'd ask while I still had the relevant name on.

How does the system work if you go to a school with no sixth form? Is there competitive entry for alternative sixth forms provision? Are 6th form colleges an option aimed at less academically focussed children? Is there enough provision? do 16 year olds risk not being able to find a place to do their A levels at all? Fundamentally, should I just rule out any school without a sixth form from consideration for my academically strong DD?

I'm talking about North Lambeth here, if that makes a difference.

alice15 Thu 08-Sep-11 15:43:10

Where I live, not many schools have their own sixth forms, and most pupils go on to one of a number of sixth form colleges in the surrounding area. They all seem to get places, but there is a real bunfight for the first come first served places at one college that is particularly well thought of - some people camping out the night before, etc. In my area, though, which isn't North Lambeth, the schools with sixth forms generally get better results academically at GCSE. One teacher friend tells me this is partly because many teachers prefer working in a school with a sixth form because a) teaching A level is interesting and b) it keeps their career path more open if they stay up to date with the A level syllabuses etc, so perhaps schools that end at 16 have a more limited choice of teachers. I am not a teacher and my children don't go to that kind of school, so I may be wrong!

IloveJudgeJudy Thu 08-Sep-11 15:54:10

Where I live, most schools do have their own 6th forms, but pupils do move from one to the other, especially as we still have the grammar school system here. The standards are very high. Here it was 6 A*-C grades with Bs, including Bs for English and for the ones you want to do 'A' level at, with maths having to be an A grade.

I did hear this year about one girl who had gone to grammar school, had mostly As and A*s, but mucked up her English and got C. She was not accepted back.

TalkinPeace2 Thu 08-Sep-11 16:26:44

Here in Hampshire very few non Catholic schools have 6th form (although a few are now getting them)
everybody applies for places at the 6th form colleges - which are HUGE - and are geared up to taking all the kids

Tommy Thu 08-Sep-11 16:27:37

was just about to say what Talkinpeace2 said

cricketballs Thu 08-Sep-11 19:52:50

where I live, there are only 3 out of 17 schools with a 6th form, there are a number of colleges and they should NOT be thought of as the lesser option. A 6th form at a school is best suited for students whom need extra hand holding/support as colleges are more independent.

We have one very good college, a medium college and one that is more vocationally based (although they do A levels). The very good college does have a large number applying and they require high GCSE grades (nothing less than a B), the middle one C grades for A levels, whilst the 3rd one is for less academic students - so there is something to suit everyone

GnomeDePlume Thu 08-Sep-11 20:25:54

Where I live the schools dont have sixth forms. They have grouped together to form a consortium college. There are also a couple of super large sixth forms outside of the district which are geared up to take more than the host schools annual output post GCSE.

Dont forget that your DD may be ready for a change at the end of GCSEs even if you found the most excellent sixth form (IME teenagers are contrary like that!).

IMO dont worry about sixth form if you are just embarking on secondary. Over the course of 5 years the options may change. You will also find that the options become clearer across the course of 5 years.

DanFmDorking Thu 08-Sep-11 21:07:56

Few schools in my area (Surrey) have 6th forms.

Sixth Form colleges have a more informal environment and because they are usually bigger they offer a broader range of courses and more options.

We viewed the Sixth Form College as half a step towards University. Students are treated like adults and learn to organise their work. They also meet lots of new people and make new friends as Colleges take students from different schools.

The Principal told us that, on average, Students get half an 'A' level better when attending a Sixth Form college although I can't find any figures to back this up.

lancaster Thu 08-Sep-11 21:15:21

I come from an area where none of the local schools have sixth forms. I loved going to a separate sixth form and as others have said is a great stepping stone towards university. In answer to your other question I was very academic as were all of my friends and all got great A level results and went on to get good degrees.

webwiz Thu 08-Sep-11 21:47:45

Were we live all the schools have sixth forms, there are some "colleges" but they tend to be for vocational qualifications. I went to a fabulous sixth form college so I would have liked my DCs to have the same experience but it just isn't available here. There are advantages and disadvantages to both but not everyone has a choice. DS is in year 10 so I don't think a sixth form college is going to appear in the next two years so he'll be staying on at his school like his older sisters did (better the devil you know!)

BoringSchoolChoiceNickname Thu 08-Sep-11 23:53:54

Thanks all, that's really interesting because it's a subject I knew nothing about. Don't quite know where it leaves us though, since it obviously varies hugely by area. The new Lambeth Academy made a huge deal of insisting that they must have a sixth form because otherwise they wouldn't be able to attract the right sort of teachers/pupils - it doesn't seem to have got them very far though.

Kez100 Thu 08-Sep-11 23:59:38

We have no 6th form. They can choose the right course for themselves from about 3 6th forms and 5 colleges. All subsidised transport.

The only disadvantage is the travel. Advantage - they can virtually hand pick the best programme to suit themselves, independence, choice of which has best extra curricular for them and no bias by school because there is no self- interest to keep them in their own 6th form.

Mowlem Fri 09-Sep-11 00:16:06

I teach at a FE / 6th form college, and I would definitely agree that it is not the 'weaker option'.

Most of my colleagues have higher degrees (MAs or Phds) and have more academic knowledge awareness of the subjects they teach. Because we only teach 'A' levels, then we are more specialist. When I taught in schools 'A' level teaching made up only 20% of my timetable, now its 100% so I am able to focus fully on it iyswim.

Secondly, because there are larger numbers of students, students get more choice. For example, my college offers over 50 different courses (vast majority traditional 'A' level courses) and so when a student signs up for history they have a choice of eras and types. Not only modern or ancient, but can also choose to do 16th Century, 19th Century or 20th Century - depending on interest.

Finally, the third advantage is that, as a previous poster stated, colleges do provide a half way house to university. Students are given much greater freedom to manage their time and their own studies, and we only contact parents when they fail to manage this. Whilst not all students are ready for this step yet, for the majority I think it is a good thing because then they can make mistakes with a support structure still in place for them if they screw up.

And with reference to the research. I am not aware of any that shows that students do better at sixth forms per se, but I have seen studies which suggest that students do better when they are at a larger institute (college or sixth form), but the type of place where students typically do the worst is at a school with a small sixth form.

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