Recent academic research published by the Learning and Skills Network finds that the local mix of post-16 institution types is not the most important determinant of whether or not a student goes on to participate post-16.
We believe that choice and diversity are powerful levers for driving up quality and increasing participation rates. This will include more school sixth forms and we have introduced measures to make it easier for successful schools to open sixth forms where there is pupil and parental demand to extend quality and choice for local students.
The recent FE White Paper showed that the staying-on rate for those with any good GCSE passes—who now form the majority of the cohort—is higher in schools with sixth forms, and also that the overall staying-on rate is higher in such schools.
Collaboration post-16 between schools, and between schools and colleges, will be essential to ensure critical mass and sufficient choice for learners, particularly in light of the development of specialised diplomas, which will be available nationwide.
Proposals to establish new school sixth forms, made by local authorities or school governing bodies, are decided locally. The Secretary of State plays no part in the decision making process.
The following table sets out the numbers of statutory proposals for new school sixth forms published in 2005 and 2006 and outcomes. No proposals for new school sixth forms were published in 2004.
2005 2006 Total published 5 21 Approved 3 5 Rejected 1 0 Awaiting decision 1 16