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New figures show that in terms of sixth form success, size really does matter

The Government has released new figures which indicate that poor exam results are directly related to the size of a sixth form. The figures show that the smaller the sixth form, the worse the results, casting further doubts on the government’s policy to increase the number of small school sixth forms. The results for the biggest sixth form are almost twice as good as they are for the smallest.

The newly released figures undermine the Government’s ambitions to increase the amount of school sixth forms. Commenting on the figures, John Brennan, Associate of Colleges Chief Executive, said “In order to make sure young people get the very best deal the Government should be very cautious in encouraging more small school sixth forms.”

Currently, 727,000 16-18 year olds choose to study in colleges, compared to 447,000 in all schools. It has been suggested that the poor results for the small sixth forms could be related to the lack of variety and specialist teaching that they can provide, in comparison to the larger sixth form colleges.

Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins, whose Parliamentary Question prompted the Government to publicize the figures, said “This is not an argument about colleges versus schools. These figures show that small sixth forms are unable to provide the quality of specialist teaching and choice of subjects which larger institutions can. Creating more would divert funding and students away from existing high quality provision.

“Many colleges offer high quality teaching in up to forty different A-levels ““ small school sixth forms just cannot match that variety and often lack expertise in key areas.”

Michelle Gagan

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