Wilshaw: FE sixth forms outperform schools

Former Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw says more funding is needed to support high standards in sixth-form colleges

Julia Belgutay

GCSEs 2021: Weaker schools need help with teacher assessment, says former Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw

Sixth-form colleges are outperforming sixth forms in schools, according to former Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw.

Speaking at a teacher conference at Christ the King Sixth Form College in South London, he said this was despite the enormous financial pressures that the sector faces.

“The evidence clearly demonstrates that you outperform school sixth forms, especially for youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds,” he said, adding that too much attention had been focused on the drive to set up academies and free schools.

“The thrust has been to set up schools, however small and underperforming, as long as they are academies or free schools. Or grammars – I could spend all day on that one. Your sector is being squeezed by the drive [towards the] skills sector and manic rush to create academies and free schools. We need more money in education. You can’t do much more with the resources you’ve got."

'Money plays a big part'

He added: “Have we got enough teachers in every sector? Are they good enough? Are they evenly spread? It’s a resource issue. If we carry on like this, we’re going to run out of teachers and road in terms of raising standards. It’s not all about money, but money plays a big part.” 

In the past, Sir Michael has been highly critical of the FE sector. In November 2017, he said colleges should “get off their backsides and work harder” to improve GCSE resit results, rather than complaining about the controversial policy.

Sir Michael also described colleges as “underperforming” and called for them to be subject to more scrutiny from government.

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Julia Belgutay

Julia Belgutay

Julia Belgutay is head of FE at Tes

Find me on Twitter @JBelgutay

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