The Association of Colleges (AoC), alongside Havering Sixth Form College, has initiated a judicial review of the Department for Education’s (DfE) decision to fund a new school sixth form at Abbs Cross Academy and Arts College in Hornchurch, London. As the membership organisation for further education and sixth form colleges, AoC is challenging the decision made by a Regional Schools Commissioner as it does not appear to follow recently updated guidance published by Government ministers.
The DfE’s new guidance for establishing school sixth forms, which was welcomed by colleges earlier this year, requires that sixth forms should only be created in schools graded ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted; should offer a full programme of at least 15 A-levels; should enrol 200 students when in steady state and should not be a financial burden on the rest of the school.
David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, said: “The choice and breadth of high quality education and training is so important for all young people. We felt we had no choice but to initiate a judicial review when the official Government guidance designed to ensure the quality and viability of post-16 education appears to have been ignored.
“The colleges we represent play a vital part in ensuring that the post-16 education system offers every young person the chance to succeed. They provide a broad mixture of academic and technical learning as well as apprenticeship training which helps young people get a great start in life.
“We were delighted when the Government responded to our calls for clear guidance on the establishment of new school sixth forms. For too many years the lack of clear guidance had allowed the establishment of inappropriate school sixth forms. All we are seeking here is that the guidance is adhered to.”
The outcome of this case could have a bearing on the process for Government approval of new selective schools, as outlined in the Green Paper, “Schools that work for everyone” and establish the status of guidance to the Regional Schools Commissioners.