6th Form

A 6th form might not seem a priority when considering a school for your ten year old. However, if schools have 6th forms in your area taking them into account is useful when making your decision. Post 16 provision varies between LEAs, from 6th forms in all schools, to few or no school 6th forms and reliance on Further Education colleges. Group of teenage students writing in notebooks.

  • A good 6th form can give younger students something to aim for. 6th formers often have special dispensations, like the chance to wear their own choice of clothes rather than uniforms, to which other students aspire.
  • If the 6th formers are good role models, then they can be a civilising influence, and can often be used as mentors to younger students.
  • Some teachers prefer working in schools with 6th forms. 6th form teaching is often seen as a bonus and an intellectual challenge. Therefore, schools with 6th forms can sometimes have a better field of applicants for jobs than schools without.
  • Continuity of teaching staff can positively influence levels of achievement amongst young people. Students who want to continue their studies in the 6th form can benefit from working with teachers who are already familiar with their learning styles and potential from the lower school.
  • A school with a good 6th form often attracts 6th form students from other schools. This can give the school a new energy and a greater degree of diversity.
  • In LEAs where 6th forms are rare, the few schools that do have them may have a more academic atmosphere than their neighbours.
  • An ineffective 6th form can affect the whole school. The older students might be poor role models and demonstrate an attitude of indifference to learning. Disappointing results in the 6th form can set low standards for the rest of the school.
  • If schools with a 6th form have a low staying on rate, then this is a cause for concern. It is likely that its students do not have faith in its post 16 courses. If the school has 100% staying on rate into the 6th form then this can also provoke questions. Schools are well paid per pupil in the 6th form and an artificially high figure might suggest that a school is persuading students to stay on for the wrong reasons.
  • If your child is a late developer, then it might be appropriate to send them to a school without a 6th form. If they gain a reputation for under achievement in the lower school then this will follow them to the 6th form. They might stand a better chance of achieving highly after the age of 16 at a Further Education college, which would have fresh expectations of them.

Further Information


The Ofsted report has a separate section on the 6th form.

Open Evening/Visit

Make sure you ask to see the 6th form at work, or at least speak to a 6th former. You need to make a judgement about what kind of role models the 6th formers provide.Make sure you talk to lower school students about the 6th formers. Find out whether students aspire to be in the 6th form and why. Find out what the staying on rate into the 6th form is. If it is 100% or below 25%, be suspicious.


The school brochure should give you information about the 6th form and its results.Look for what the ‘A’ Level and vocational course results have been for the last three years. Trends should be upwards. If there are subjects which have high levels of failures then that is a cause for concern.

Case Study


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