Sixth Form Admissions and Appeals
Last Updated August 2016
If GCSE results are not as planned (better, worse, or just different), and you may need to seek a change of direction, the first thing to do is to seek as much independent advice as possible. First port of call will be your school that should have staff who know you available to provide advice on possible steps. However, remember that schools do have an interest in developing the best sixth form possible, so their advice may not be independent. The best schools will have invited in a member of CXK Connexions, which offers an independent careers service to assist in the process. Kent County Council also has an information page, which provides further links.
All students have a range of options after GCSE, although many do not think of these, being comfortable with staying at the same school. Others are told they may not go on to their home school sixth form, without being told the regulations covering such decisions. See below.
For students for whom A Level is the sensible option, most will have alternative schools that are possibilities. Whether these make sense may depend on such issues as courses provided, grades required to be admitted, the academic standards of the school. Many single sex grammar schools will admit students of the opposite gender into the sixth form. Many students from non-selective schools may benefit from a transfer to grammar school, although their welcome varies according to the ethos of the school.
You will find a recent article on Sixth Form opportunities by me, providing a wide range of extra data on individual schools, which may prove helpful, here.
It is a good idea for all potential A Level students to ask to see the profile of A Level results at the school for each subject they are considering – remember, you are the customer and should carry out research before buying!
Many non selective schools operate successful sixth forms (look at the results to determine which), and many schools are in consortia to extend the range of A Level courses.
Other important options are vocational courses or the local College of Further (and Higher) Education, with West Kent College also offering A Level subjects (the others have ceased A Level provision), usually with lower GCSE entrance requirements. The colleges also offer opportunities to make up for important subjects which have not been gained first time round. College Foundation courses are often suitable for students with limited success at school.
I do not consider myself qualified to comment on such courses, but I recommend you contact CXK Connexions if your school uses them, who will offer independent advice on possibilities. CXK is a charity replacing the previous statutory Connexions and Kent Careers Services (Government has also removed the grant for, and hence effectively closed down ACE, the Advisory Centre for Education, apparently preferring schools to retain some control over their students' future paths). Remember, schools may have their own agenda when offering advice: - do they want to attract, put off, the student; do they have sufficient numbers to run the relevant course; will recommendations be influenced by their need to perform in league tables, etc.
Students or their parents have the right to appeal to an Independent Appeal Panel against a decision not to offer a place in a school sixth form and I am happy to offer support here through a telephone consultation. The School Admission Appeals Code also offers information at paras 3.16 & 3.17. The big drawback is that the Admission Authority has up to forty school days in which to arrange an appeal hearing after the appeal is lodged. Clients of mine have been successful in several such appeals where it is clear the school has acted unreasonably, or else there is a good reason for underperformance, Remarkably, some schools are unaware of (or don't know) the possibilities of flexibility.