Colleges are real engines of social mobility

Just 10 London colleges account for 10% of the most disadvantaged students who progress to university from the whole of EnglandThese are among the greatest engines of social mobility for young people. National data on progression to higher education in 2010 show that :

  • Just 10 London sixth forms accounted for over 10% of all young people eligible for free school meals in England progressing to university and 25% of the total in London. 5 of these 10 are sixth form colleges. See table 1.
  • Just 5 inner London sixth forms accounted for over 30% of all young people eligible for free school meals in inner London progressing to university. 3 of these 5 are sixth form colleges. See table 2.
  • A higher proportion of young people eligible for free school meals progressed to university from these sixth forms than across London which itself had a FSM progression rate well above that for England as a whole. See tables 1 and 2.
  • These sixth forms are getting disadvantaged students into selective universities at a higher rate than across England as a whole. See table 3.

Table 1. Top 10 London sixth forms for FSM students progression to HE

FSM students progressing to HE Proportion progressing
City & Islington college

168

60%

Newham sixth form college (NewVIc)

156

65%

Richmond upon Thames college

116

58%

Leyton sixth form college

105

62%

St. Francis Xavier sixth form college

95

73%

Tower Hamlets college

90

60%

Sir George Monoux sixth form college

88

68%

Christ the King sixth form college

77

70%

Ealing Hammersmith & West London college

70

64%

William Morris sixth form

69

69%

Top 10 sixth forms

1,034

64%

London as a whole

4,040

57%

England as a whole

10,079

46%

 

Table 2. Top 5 inner London sixth forms for FSM students progression to HE

FSM students progressing to HE Proportion progressing
City & Islington college

168

60%

Newham sixth form college (NewVIc)

156

65%

St. Francis Xavier sixth form college

95

73%

Tower Hamlets college

90

60%

Christ the King sixth form college

77

70%

Top 5 sixth forms

586

64%

Inner London as a whole

1,923

59%

England as a whole

10,079

46%

Table 3. Proportion of FSM students progressing to “top third” universities

FSM students progressing to top third HEIs Proportion progressing
City & Islington college

45

16%

Newham sixth form college (NewVIc)

19

8%

Richmond upon Thames college

18

9%

Leyton sixth form college

15

9%

St. Francis Xavier sixth form college

25

19%

Tower Hamlets college

26

17%

Sir George Monoux sixth form college

31

24%

Christ the King sixth form college

14

13%

Ealing Hammersmith & West London college

9

8%

William Morris sixth form

10

10%

Top 10 sixth forms

212

13%

London as a whole

980

13%

England as a whole

1,972

9%

There have been 3 more years of university progression since 2010 so we clearly need more up-to-date figures to see any London-wide trends. Recent data for Newham sixth form college (NewVIc) show a strong increase in both the numbers and the proportion progressing since 2010, including to the most selective universities.

Recent years have seen the creation of many new sixth forms, some via convertor academies and some via free schools, often with substantial start-up costs and vacant funded places. Many of these new providers aim to increase the numbers of disadvantaged young people progressing to university. In London, the evidence is that there are many existing providers with an excellent track record of doing exactly this. So, in a recession, why establish so many expensive new sixth forms rather than seeking to build on the success stories we already have?

Notes:

The data are from gov.uk “Destinations of key stage 4 and key stage 5 pupils by characteristics: academic year 2010 to 2011”. Students are those who entered advanced qualifications drawn from the National Pupil Database and matched to HESA higher education data. The top third selective universities were the most selective universities in the UK based on the A level tariff score of their entrants in 2010/11.

About Eddie Playfair

Principal of Newham Sixth Form College (NewVIc) East London. Blogging about education, politics and culture in a personal capacity. I also tweet at @eddieplayfair
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