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School 6th form vs 6th form college

(14 Posts)
3littlefrogs Tue 12-Nov-13 18:24:03

Is it true that teachers in 6th form colleges are paid less than teachers in secondary schools? (According to HT at dd's school this is the case and means that teachers at 6th form colleges are inferior).

We have visited a local 6th form college and think it would be just right for us, but school are trying hard to put us off.

Would welcome any opinions from teachers.


morethanpotatoprints Tue 12-Nov-13 18:30:53

They are by no means inferior, if anything quite often a better bet for your dc. angry at your HT.

A secondary teacher is also qualified to teach FE, whereas a FE/HE lecturer is not qualified to teach secondary, but quite often have to if they are employed in a school with 6th form.
Teachers at 6th form colleges are actually qualified and experienced in this age group.
Not sure if this is clear, sorry.
I taught in 6th form college and school with 6th form. I found it much better in 6th form college, where students were treated as adults rather than children. They called me by my first name and the atmosphere was far less formal than a school.

titchy Tue 12-Nov-13 18:33:10

shock That's a terrible thing to say about colleagues at another institution. Look at the results from both in the subjects your dc is interested in - that should tell you whether their teaching is up to scratch or not.

3littlefrogs Tue 12-Nov-13 18:36:50

I think it is very unprofessional to criticize colleagues in that way. Personally I was really impressed with the 6th form college, and am really taken aback by the HT comments TBH.

However, it is a big decision and I just wondered if there is any truth in it.

MysteriousHamster Tue 12-Nov-13 18:38:25

Where I grew up I had three choices:

Average secondary: pretty dismal teachers, not great results. Clever students got one or two As rather than a full board.

Slightly selective sixth form college (think asking for five Bs instead of five Cs): full of kids who wanted to learn, great results, great Oxbridge attendance, mostly great teachers.

Average sixth form: Took just about anyone, suffered with traditional A levels, also offered good vocational courses.

I went to the selective sixth form college and have no doubt it was right for me. I would've faded into the background at school, stuck with all my peers who knew me (and knew how to tease me) for years. Sixth form college was a revelation and a fresh start. But it all depends on the individual schools in a particular area.

Applefallingfromthetree2 Wed 13-Nov-13 13:17:19

What a disgraceful and ignorant comment from the HT-smacks of desperation to keep the kids in school. I have taught in both and if anything found sixth form college teachers to have more imagination. If they teach A level they will have equal qualifications to school teachers . If teaching vocational subjects they will have worked in the field and have work related qualifications and experience that school teachers rarely have.

It is true to say that teachers are paid less but this is a political decision and a wrong one. Those teaching in sixth form colleges are prepared to sacrifice this salary difference as they often enjoy the more mature approach to teaching and learning.

ICanTotallyDance Wed 13-Nov-13 19:46:03

I am very surprised at the head teacher!

Actually, there may be some truth in it for your particular region but that is highly unlikely. Even if the teachers are paid less, they may not be inferior? For example, teachers at some independent schools have high salaries but it doesn't necessarily mean they're any better than other teachers.

Just look at the results of the two sixth forms (your school's and the prospective college) and then compare the atmospheres of the two schools, and consult your DC.

If your DC is outgrown their school, then even if the sixth form is slightly worse it may be better to move them.

All in all, though, it sounds as though the HT is scaremongering in a desperate attempt to keep students!

AtiaoftheJulii Wed 13-Nov-13 21:13:45

We were at a school sixth form thing tonight and the head teacher said that they will try as hard as they can to fit your choices to the subject timetable, which a college won't do. Which I might have believed if the sixth form college principal we saw last week hadn't told us that they get everyone's choices and spend a mad week compiling a timetable from them! And tbh, the college have 1800 pupils in each year, and have so many classes for each subject that you can do whatever you like! I think there's a fair bit of exaggeration on both sides ;-)

LittleSiouxieSue Wed 13-Nov-13 22:19:33

I think you have hit in the difference, Attia, it is the size of the 6th forms. You are more likely to have teachers that know you and more individual attention in a school because almost certainly there are less pupils in the 6 th form. On the other hand, the college will offer more choice and have a more adult atmosphere. It really depends how good each is and what suits best.

I think it depends on the school and college and depends on the child and what they're planning on doing. For us, DS1 is doing pretty traditional A'Level's (Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Computing) and his school is good - it makes sense for him to stay there in familiar surroundings with people he knows. There's no advantage in moving. DS2 on the other hand is interested in filmmaking (the technical side, not acting) and it might be worth him going somewhere that offers something different from his school (Brit School perhaps) I think you have to look at it on an individual basis.

sashh Thu 14-Nov-13 10:13:41


The main difference you will find between school and FE teachers is that most FE teachers have teaching as a second career.

There can be a difference in pay, but the teaching qualification taken for teaching in FE now qualifies you to teach in schools as well. With one huge difference, you don't do an NQT year.

I think with any form of education/school/HE/FE/mix and match the only questions you should be asking are about whether the environment is right for your child and if they will succeed in that establishment.

I only half agree with LittleSiouxieSue, not all teacher/lecturers in a college know all students, you can't, but the ones you actually teach you do get to know well.

From the HT point of view though VI form students =£££ funding compared to year 7-11.

I'm obviously biased, I'm an FE teacher, but one thing I would say about FE colleges, VI form colleges is that it is a stepping stone to uni.

The students have far more autonomy. They are responsible for doing their work and getting it in on time.

secretscwirrels Thu 14-Nov-13 15:52:08

I have DS1 in a sixth form college and DS2 at the looking around stage.
DS1 has thrived academically and the teaching has been excellent. The whole feel of the place is as sashh says like a half way house to uni. If he has free periods he can study in college or at home, schools don't allow that.
The school sixth forms we have looked at with DS2 are much smaller so don't offer as wide a range of subjects (not a problem if you want standard academic subjects but can be difficult to mix science and humanities). The feel of it is very much like a school, even if they have a different building. Schools often have a "dress code" which I think is unnecessary and stifling. They are more likely to insist on taking part in extra curricular, which doesn't suit everyone.

creamteas Thu 14-Nov-13 20:28:34

Both school sixth forms and colleges vary enormously.

At my DC's school for example, sixth form are treated very differently. They don't have a uniform, have free periods where they can be at home, and over both A levels and vocational qualifications. So it is very similar in style to a college. They also are part of a larger confederation so if you want a subject not offered or have a clash, you can attend a neighbouring school to take it, but this can lead to complicated travel arrangements.

The local college had a greater range of vocational qualifications on the same site, but the traditional subjects seemed to be well resourced. The pay is less I think, but I don't think that makes the teaching quality necessarily worse.

tintingirl Fri 15-Nov-13 00:48:32

There is an organisation called ALPS which does a report on every A level/BTEC National at a school and gives a grade for the quality of results. Ask to see the ALPS report for both institutions and this will help your decision. If they won't give it, most LEA's still have a 'county' one where all institutions are ranked per subject. It is a reliable indicator of teaching quality and results in any given subject.

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