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Sixth Form Admissions & Appeals - Kent Independent Education Advice

Sixth Form Admissions and Appeals

Last Updated August 2020

You will find an article looking at the pattern of Sixth Form choices and the nature of Sixth Forms across Kent and Medway schools for 2021, here. This builds upon a previous one here that takes into account the effects of the cancellation of GCSE examinations because of coronavirus. 

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.  

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 an 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 a Kent charity called CXK, who will offer independent advice on possibilities. CXK  replaces 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. Kent County Council also has an information page that provides further links, although it appears to have been scaled down since I last visited.

Regulations for Sixth Form Admissions and Appeals
You will find these in section 2.6 (also look at 2.7) in the School Admissions Code 2014; you will find a link here. Admission Authorities for schools can set their own entry requirements such as GCSE Grades, which will be the same both for internal or external applicants. They must also publish oversubscription criteria, although students who are already in the school who achieve the entry requirements will automatically qualify for a place without the need for an application. Entry MUST NOT be dependent on attendance, behaviour record, or perceptions of attitude or motivation (including effort put in). Where the school has not admitted up to its published admission number it cannot refuse to admit applicants who have met the minimum entry requirements for the school even if a chosen course is full. In the latter case, the school must offer a place whilst offering alternative course options. From my own experience some schools flout these regulations, so don't be afraid to challenge them. 

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. 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 in the past 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.