London’s colleges promoting social mobility

Inner London’s colleges are helping more disadvantaged students get to university than all its school sixth forms.

In 2010, Inner London’s 19 colleges and 16-19 schools helped more disadvantaged students to progress to university than all 81 of the area’s school sixth forms. The most recent national data on young people’s progression to university for 2010 show that of the 1,906 young people eligible for free school meals (FSM) who progressed to university from Inner London, over half came from sixth form colleges, further education or 16-19 schools. Inner London’s 5 sixth form colleges contributed 20% of the overall total.

 FSM students progressing to HE from inner London colleges in 2010

  FSM students progressing to HE % of inner London total
City & Islington college


Newham sixth form college (NewVIc)


St. Francis Xavier sixth form college


Tower Hamlets college


Christ the King sixth form college


Ealing Hammersmith & West London college


William Morris sixth form*


Westminster Kingsway college


St. Charles sixth form college


City of Westminster college


Crossways academy*


Haringey sixth form centre*


South Thames college


Shooters Hill post-16 campus*


Lambeth college


BSix Brooke House sixth form college


Hackney community college


Newham college of further education


Lewisham college


19 inner London colleges



81 inner London school sixth forms



Inner London as a whole



* 16-19 schools.

Some colleges not included due to small numbers.

Data in a previous post also showed 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 progression rate well above that for England as a whole.
  • These sixth forms are getting students into selective universities at a higher rate than across England as a whole.

Disadvantaged students are still under-represented in Higher Education and the evidence from inner London is that colleges or 16-19 schools have been the most effective at promoting social mobility. Any further drive to increase the progression of these students to university should therefore be based on learning from the good practice in these colleges rather than establishing more new school sixth forms.

Note: The data are drawn from “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.


About Eddie Playfair

I am a Senior Policy Manager at the Association of Colleges (AoC) having previously been a college principal for 16 years and a teacher before that. I live in East London and I blog in a personal capacity about education and culture. I also tweet at @eddieplayfair
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