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School or college for sixth form?

(18 Posts)
Madhairday Wed 11-Jan-17 19:15:37

Dd is in Y11 and has narrowed down her sixth form to two choices- carry on at her school or go to a large local sixth form college. Just wanted to ask for any thoughts, particularly as DD has some SEN (dyspraxia and dyslexia) - she loves the whole ethos of the college but it does seem they are left more to it there, it's more like uni - which is good in some ways, but possibly not for an organisationally challenged student?!

Her own school has a small sixth form and the advantages would be she is known, the SN provision (mainly laptop for exams) will continue seamlessly, less places to find her way round. But it might be good for her to branch out and be more prepared for the adult world...

Her friendship group are off all over the place so a couple are going to the college but hardly any staying at the school so that's a consideration as she's had trouble socially at her school.

Sorry this is long. Any opinions of school vs college? Thanks.

TeenAndTween Wed 11-Jan-17 19:47:33

My DD has dyspraxia and some emotional vulnerabilities and college has not been good for her (she's in her second year doing a BTEC).
- Pastoral care has been way worse than at school
- No one knew her / her difficulties
- College way larger and the socialisation has been hard for her
- Communication with parents worse than at school

However had she risen to the challenge rather than getting massively distracted by a BF it might have all worked out. It was a good decision with a bad outcome (not that we have schools with 6th forms round here anyway). There were clubs she could have joined, people to meet, and if she were doing A levels a wider range of options.

bojorojo Wed 11-Jan-17 22:28:46

From what I have seen, colleges offer a much wider range of subjects, so check that the school offers what she actually wants to do. Small 6th forms sometimes are not very successful because they are an "add on" rather than an established 6th form with a wide range of subjects and opportunities for wider participation in school and prep for university. Why do few students stay on?

Colleges are more of a bridge between school and university and they will only have two years to get to know her. Her school does know her. Lap top use should not change as records will be passed to the college but there will not be as much individual care in a very large institution.

When you say her friends are going to lots of different locations, could she do her subjects in another school 6th form?

Lastly, compare the results in her subject in both your school and the college. In some areas, the colleges do not get good results, but in other areas they are great. Where is she going to flourish and get the support she needs as well as the best teaching? The best teaching is very important.

titchy Wed 11-Jan-17 23:05:15

If she's university bound, a couple of years organising herself with you supporting/cajoling might be better than two years having someone else do the organising, then leaving home and having to do it yourself with no one there to do day to day support, and lots of distraction to contend with...

BackforGood Wed 11-Jan-17 23:50:49

Different areas have very different provision - so one of us could be comparing what our local 6th form colleges are like, but yours might be different.
From what I have gathered from other similar threads, some areas tend to have nearly all youngsters go to 6th form colleges, and schools don't have 6th forms. Where we are, A-levels are done in school 6th forms, and the colleges are for the more vocational (in the main). There is also an initiative whereby 4 local schools have linked up and don't duplicate the subjects but you can do - say Geography at one school whilst doing maths at another and English at another. To accommodate this, they do a whole day one one subject, which is massively intensive, but it also means your dc coping with 3 different sets of 'school rules', staff, etc., etc., so that would be more organisation not less.
I think there's a lot to be said for staying at the present school, unless there is a specific reason for not wanting to. they can 'mature' through activities outside of school which won't matter as much if it all goes wrong - be that hobbies, volunteering or a job.

Madhairday Thu 12-Jan-17 07:30:01

Thanks all. The results are good from both - college has an excellent reputation locally. It's also in a much nicer town which is swaying dd - more chances for some good extra curricular stuff - rowing, DofE etc.

I do agree it might be a good bridge but also that staying at the school might be the safer option in terms of size and socially. Most of her friends aren't staying on as they want the college experience or they are going the more vocational route. DD does want to go to uni and knows what Sue wants to do, both school and college do her A level subjects. School do 3 A levels plus one AS level and college do 3 A levels then an 'enrichment project' which sounds good - and another organisational challenge!

TeenandTween, sorry to hear your dd has struggled. That's my worry with the size of the college/different pastoral care set up, though the college assure me they take pastoral care very seriously..
Thanks for the thoughts - more to think on.

senua Thu 12-Jan-17 08:41:14

There was a recent thread which summarises the school v. Sixth Form question. here

She will need to get the SEN re-certified after the age of 16 in order to qualify for an allowance in Higher Education. Which institution would be best at that? - it's up to £1700 p.a. (that's a new laptop, printer?) so it's worth getting! link

Madhairday Thu 12-Jan-17 09:17:33

Thanks for those links, senua- I had no idea about the funding. The college told me they do re-assess all students with additional needs so that might be good.

titchy Thu 12-Jan-17 09:26:36


That provision is for HIGHER education not sixth form. OP ignore Senuas link.

marl Thu 12-Jan-17 09:27:25

I would suggest also looking at the results in the subjects she is thinking of doing and understanding the stability of the staffing in each department. College staff are usually paid so much less than those in school and that can sometimes make a difference to recruitment, depending on the nature of the local alternatives Though of course there can also be many 'non specialists' teaching an A level in any sixth form. So that, personally, is information I'd be asking about with my DSs.

senua Thu 12-Jan-17 09:43:45

titchy I think you misunderstand me. OP said her DD wants to go to University: my point was which KS5 institution would arrange the post-16 assessment which would eventually help in HE. Forward planning and all that.

titchy Thu 12-Jan-17 10:22:04

It won't senua. Regardless of where a student goes for sixth form, universities always re-assess entitled to DSA (which is being phased out in anycase).

catslife Thu 12-Jan-17 11:54:59

Actually would recommend she applies for both.
A minimum number of pupils is usually needed for an A level subject to be taught and there is a risk (particularly in small sixth forms) that there may not be enough pupils willing to take a particular subject for the sixth form to be able to run classes for that year group.
Pastoral care at dds sixth form college seems to be good - all students have tutorials with their personal tutor once a week. There is also extra support in place for students who need it.

Madhairday Thu 12-Jan-17 13:22:05

Thanks- yes she's intending to apply for both. Both have good results in the subjects she is doing so it's hard to make a judgment that way. She's come down this morning saying she wants to go to the college...

Madhairday Thu 12-Jan-17 13:23:38

That's good to hear about pastoral care, catslife. Sounds a similar set up with weekly tutorials then also theye have 1 to 1 sessions a few times a year too - not sure how many though.

Allthebestnamesareused Thu 12-Jan-17 18:59:08

Although someone has said that if she went to college now she would get used to self organising etc before she has to stand on her own at uni. However if she ends up not coping with college she might not get the grades she needs for uni that she might achieve with a supportive small 6th form.

Sorry - that probably hasn't helped at all but might be a consideration.

BackforGood Thu 12-Jan-17 19:40:43

I agree AlltheBest - plenty of students manage fine with looking out for themselves at University (once 18) who really struggled with organisation in Yr 11 (likely to only be 15 now).
Teens can change a lot between those age groups. I wouldn't risk her failing in the 6th form, so she was 'better prepared for University' - as if she fails in the 6th form she won't get to university. I'd do work on that side of things seperately.
Not that I'm saying in any way that 6th form college would 'fail' her, but just that argument for 6th form college doesn't make sense to me.

Violetcharlotte Thu 12-Jan-17 19:48:11

Where I live there's no option of 6 form at school. My DS is in his 2nd year and loves it. It's much more relaxed (no uniform, call teachers by first name, etc) and the facilities are first class. He's not academic at all, but is doing a level 3 BTEC in a subject he's passionate about. DS2 will go there too next year.

I always think if seems quite odd when colleagues who live in the next county talk about their 17 year olds being at school.

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