Guerrilla war for sixth forms

February 10, 1995

An independent further education advisory group has called for a moratorium on new school sixth-forms after a survey highlighted alarming side effects of their rivalry with colleges.

Laser, the London and south- east advisory council on FE, said only 42 per cent of colleges in its national survey reported amicable relations with their local schools. Competition for 16-year-olds led in some cases to the college being refused a place at the school's careers fair and claims that posters advertising college open days were torn down.

One in four colleges said they were never invited into local schools, while one in three said they had evidence that school pupils were being persuaded against their best interests to stay on at school.

Laser contacted 0 colleges in the UK for the survey and 84 responded.

"I don't think any more sixth forms should be opening because of the way they end up competing with colleges over the same students," said Laurie South, Laser chief executive. He said heads of schools and colleges were being put in a moral dilemma - choosing between the financial benefits to their institution and the best interests of the student.

"Our report clearly points to the fact that there is deliberate misinformation about educational opportunities being given to school pupils," said Mr South.

A spokesman for the DFE said the secretary of state had powers to intervene in cases of damaging competition but had not yet had cause to do so.

There were 41 proposals for new school sixth forms in the pipeline, which included 26 at grant-maintained schools.

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