Research suggests that schools with sixth forms don’t outperform those without

On average, secondary schools with sixth forms obtain better GCSE results than those without sixth forms, new research finds

Research conducted by SchoolDash, in answer to the question, ‘Do sixth forms make for better secondary schools?’, reveals that schools with sixt forms do not necessarily outperform those without when pupils backgrounds are accounted for. However, it also finds that it may have an influence on whether subsequent education is primarily academic or a vocational.

Some key findings from the research conducted by SchoolDash are as follows:

  • On average, secondary schools with sixth forms obtain better GCSE results than those without sixth forms.
  • However, they also tend to have more able, affluent pupils and are more likely to be selective. Once these and other potentially confounding factors are taken into account, there is very little difference in GCSE performance between schools that have a sixth form and those that don’t.
  • There is, however, a big difference in post-GCSE destinations. Pupils at schools with a sixth form are much more likely to go to a sixth form (whether at the same school or elsewhere) and are correspondingly less likely to enter a further education (FE) college. This effect persists even after controlling for other factors. Based on these results, providing a sixth form in every secondary school might be expected to result in up to 20,000 more pupils each year choosing that route over an FE college. Conversely, separating all sixth forms from secondary schools might be expected to result in up to 50,000 more pupils every year going to an FE college.
  • Thus secondary schools with integrated sixth forms do not enable greater academic success at GCSE, but they do encourage more academic educational routes thereafter.

You can read the full report here.

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