Julie McCulloch, Director of Policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on the government press release about the creation of new school and sixth form places.
“While we welcome the creation of new school and sixth form places, we would urge the government against creating super-selective standalone sixth forms. Its press release gives this impression by saying that the aim is to open ‘academically focused’ 16 to 19 free schools to increase the number of disadvantaged young people progressing to top universities.
“As the Chair of the Social Mobility Commission, Katharine Birbalsingh, said on Thursday in her inaugural speech, social mobility should not be just about making elite pathways for a few but should work for a wider range of people.
“The danger of super-selective sixth forms is that they will simply take the most academically able young people from existing sixth form provision with consequent damage to those institutions and a demoralising impact on other young people who do not make the cut. The opportunity to progress to top universities is of obvious importance but so is progression to the many other universities, colleges, apprenticeship routes and wide variety of careers to which they lead.
“The government must recognise that public money should be spent on improving the prospects of all young people rather than creating a ladder of success for a lucky few.”