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First sixth-form college to convert this week

Some 18 of the 90 sixth-form colleges in England are now at the advanced stage of the academy conversion process, says the Sixth-Form Colleges’ Association

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Some 18 of the 90 sixth-form colleges in England are now at the advanced stage of the academy conversion process, says the Sixth-Form Colleges’ Association

Hereford Sixth-Form College will this week become the first sixth-form college to academise, it has been confirmed.

The announcement comes after TES revealed only weeks ago that the college was furthest ahead in the process to become an academy, with a number of other sixth-form colleges following suit.

Hereford had originally hoped to convert earlier this year, but it is now due to gain academy status on Wednesday 1 March. The move follows then chancellor George Osborne's announcement in the 2015 Spending Review that the government would allow sixth-form colleges to become academies. Shortly after, New College Pontefract became the first to state its interest in academisation.

According to the Sixth-Form Colleges’ Association (SFCA), 18 of the 90 sixth-form colleges in England are now at the advanced stage of the conversion process to become a 16-19 academy, and more than two-thirds of colleges in the sector are actively considering whether to academise.

'A new chapter in sixth-form education'

In January, Jonathan Godfrey, principal of Hereford Sixth-Form College, told TES that although the conversion process had generated additional work, it had not been “too onerous”, and the college had been well supported by the academy team within the Department for Education.

He said this week that the college was delighted to become the first sixth-form college to academise. “This will allow us to formalise some of the collaborative work we are involved in with our excellent local 11-16 partner schools, and the VAT refund will enable us to direct additional resources to the education of our students. As the first sixth-form college to take this step, we have been able to help shape the conversion process and we hope this will benefit other sixth-form colleges that become academies in the future,” Mr Godfrey added.

James Kewin, deputy chief executive of the SFCA, said Hereford Sixth-Form College’s academisation marked “the beginning of a new chapter in sixth-form education in England”. “By becoming an academy, sixth-form colleges like Hereford will be able to forge closer links with local schools and invest more money in the education of their own students," he said. "Not all sixth-form colleges will become academies but it is right that they have the option to do so when it is in the best interests of their students." 

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