College success with disadvantaged students

Newham Sixth Form College (NewVIc) in East London sent more disadvantaged students to university than any other sixth form in the country in 2011. Overall, England’s 338 colleges sent more disadvantaged students to university than its 1,839 school sixth forms: 7,300 compared to 4,290.

London colleges have consolidated their success since 2010 in getting disadvantaged students to university with increases above the national average (see my earlier post about the 2010 data).

The most recent national data on young people’s progression to university shows that in 2011:

  • Just 10 London sixth forms accounted for over 11% of all young people eligible for free school meals in England progressing to university and 28% of the total in London. 5 of these are sixth form colleges. See table 1.
  • Just 5 inner London sixth forms accounted for over 31% of all young people eligible for free school meals in inner London progressing to university. 2 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 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 the same rate as across England as a whole. See table 3.

It is clear that in London the greatest engines of educational mobility for young people are colleges.

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

FSM students progressing to HE Proportion progressing
Newham sixth form college (NewVIc) 250 64%
City & Islington college 230 63%
Sir George Monoux sixth form college 180 67%
Leyton sixth form college 160 65%
Richmond upon Thames college 140 63%
Tower Hamlets college 130 67%
Christ the King sixth form college 110 74%
Ealing Hammersmith & West London college 110 56%
St. Francis Xavier sixth form college 100 76%
Westminster Kingsway college 100 64%
Top 10 sixth forms 1,510 65%
London as a whole 5,425 62%
England as a whole 13,522 47%

 

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

FSM students progressing to HE Proportion progressing
Newham sixth form college (NewVIc) 250 64%
City & Islington college 230 63%
Tower Hamlets college 130 67%
Christ the King sixth form college 110 74%
Ealing Hammersmith & West London college 110 56%
Top 5 sixth forms 830 64%
Inner London as a whole 2,678 63%
England as a whole 13,522 47%

 

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

FSM students progressing to top third HEIs Proportion progressing
Newham sixth form college (NewVIc) 27 7%
City & Islington college 32 9%
Sir George Monoux sixth form college 21 9%
Leyton sixth form college 25 10%
Richmond upon Thames college 16 7%
Tower Hamlets college 18 9%
Christ the King sixth form college 26 17%
Ealing Hammersmith & West London college 11 6%
St. Francis Xavier sixth form college 21 15%
Westminster Kingsway college x x
Top 10 sixth forms 197 8%
London as a whole 1,000 12%
England as a whole 2,302 8%

These data are for 2011 and there have been 2 years of university progression since then so we will need more up-to-date data to see any longer term London-wide trends. However, data for Newham sixth form college (NewVIc) show a strong increase in both the numbers and the proportion progressing, including to the most selective universities. Colleges with higher numbers of vocational students will tend to have a lower proportion progressing 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 from these tables is that there are many existing colleges 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?

Note: The data are drawn from https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/destinations-of-key-stage-4-and-key-stage-5-pupils-2011-to-2012 and numbers are rounded to the nearest 10 so some of the derived numbers in the tables have a small margin of error. 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 52 most selective universities in the UK based on the A level tariff score of their entrants in 2011/12.

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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