Sixth Form College Problems
Sixth Form Colleges, in my opinion, do a pretty good job. They're effective at recruiting students and effective in producing good results for them. However, research reported in the Guardian today paints a grim picture for their future. Why? Well, in my opinion they've probably been too successful - seeing that they did a good job, the Government has cut back their funding to the level of 11-18 schools, which can subsidize their Sixth Forms, and they have extra tax burdens, notably having to pay VAT. They also have to recruit half their student body each year.
So what went wrong? My view is that many colleges forgot they have a range of stakeholders and focused only on students. They haven't made an effective case to local and especially national government (this report might help, although I'd also suggest mobilising external support from schools, former students and so on) and they've not thought through other sources of funding. A few suggestions for extra funding (there are surely many more) - could they supply expert teachers to local High Schools, run Training Schools, could they increase funding from alumni or local employers, could they offer courses to adults? The next few years will be hard, but I wish them well.
A Grammar School for Sevenoaks?
One of the longest-running fractures in English education is the role of selective grammar schools. There are 164 left currently in England, but there has been a ban for many years on opening new ones. This may be all set to change, thanks to a clever legal wheeze that the Daily Mail reports will result in a grammar school 'annex' in Sevenoaks, Kent. The way legal systems work, once one annex opens, there could well be many more across the country. Grammar schools are wildly popular - paradoxically this is why expansion is banned as those who don't pass the selection tests are sent to 'secondary modern' schools which are much less popular.
Other secondary schools in Sevenoaks (and those in and near areas with existing grammar schools) need to be thinking deeply about these changes. Monitoring and reacting to competition doesn't come easily to schools (here's some general advice) but if your schools is near to a potential new grammar here are some things you really should be thinking about doing...
- Paying close attention to the promises made by grammar school and their marketing material
- Forging strong links with feeder primary schools and your families
- Telling stories about how all (but perhaps especially the more able) your students succeed
- Increasing links with higher education institutions
Primary schools might also need to think about how they will react - will parents expect preparation for 11+ exams for example?
If you'd like to work through either of these issues (or other marketing threats) with experienced marketers, why not book a place on one of our forthcoming training workshops?