Six forms belong in colleges

THANK you for the irony generated by the two letters that defended school sixth forms as against FE provision.

The first letter was from a school in the same borough as my college with whom we have poor relations; the second was from a school which last year appointed a member of my staff to become their deputy head of sixth form.

As we move into the next century the education of the majority of full-time 16-19 students is taking place in dedicated post-16 institutions precisely because they have been so successful in meeting their needs. It is not acceptable that Pounds 500 million of public money is being absorbed by increasingly archaic and, in curriculum terms, restrictive school sixth forms.

Almost without exception sixth- form colleges have flourished since incorporation. Each can cite its quota of high-achieving students, but can also celebrate its ability to enable many students to achieve and make real their responsibility for their futures.

It may take until 2010 until there are senior officials at the DFEE who will promote the values of sixth-form colleges and sixth form centres but let us anticipate them now.

Peter Sharples, Principal, Coulsdon College, Placehorn Lane, Old Coulsdon, Surrey

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