Below you will find specific information on London Sixth Forms.

There is a huge range of Independent/private schools spread out over Great Britain, Ireland, The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

Private or independent schools are fee-paying schools. Although these terms are used interchangeably, there is a slight difference. Independent schools are those that do not receive funding from its state government. Private schools are however independent schools that are overseen by a board of governors or trustees. Most of them are members of the ISI (Independent Schools Inspectorate).

Private schools are run by governors and independent of many regulations that apply to state schools. The biggest of these regulations that they are independent of is the National Curriculum.

Sixth Form

In England, Wales, Northern Ireland and some Common Wealth countries a Sixth Form refers to the last 1-3 years of schooling. This is usually between the ages of 16 and 18. A Sixth Form education is to prepare for A-level exams, at the end of Year 13.

The word comes from an earlier system of schooling in England and Wales. The first 5 years of secondary schooling were divided into forms. You would move up a form every year until the fifth form. If you stayed on at school to prepare for A-levels you would then go onto the sixth form. This system was changed from the 1990-1991 academic year. School years are now chronologically numbered. Schooling starts with Reception (year turning 4) with Year 1 (year turning 5) following.

For most schools, Sixth Form, therefore, consists of Year 12 (Lower Sixth) and Year 13 (Upper Sixth).

Although most English Private Secondary schools have a Sixth Form as part of the school, these can also be independent.

Although Sixth Form is not compulsory in England, children of that age need to still be in formal education. There are therefore a few choices after writing GCSE’s at the end of Year 11:

  • Attend Sixth Form in preparation of University/Academic qualification
  • T-Levels
  • Vocational training
  • Advanced Apprenticeship

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Private Schools in the news

Why are private schools still classified as charities? According to the Charities Act, a charity is an institution that’s established for a charitable purpose and ‘provides benefit to the public’. Yet the benefit to the public seems to be amiss. The Guardian reported that between 2017-22, private schools will get tax rebates totalling £522m as a result of their status as charities. Yet the state sector is so starved for resources that head teachers spend a large chunk of their time having to fundraise for essential subjects. In his book Posh Boys: How the English Public Schools Ruin Britain, he writes: “The public schools were founded to educate the poor and ended up serving the interest of the rich.”

Verkaik argues that the golden rule for charitable status should logically be how many children are taught without having to pay a fee. Unfortunately, in 2017 only 1% of private school pupils received their education for free. To make matters worse, ‘financial assistance’ also seems to mostly be going to wealthy families. It emerged that private schools are spending millions more on giving affluent middle-class families fee discounts than on disadvantaged or lower income families. Even means-tested bursaries are available to families that earn an income as high as £140 000 per year. It is also worth mentioning that although private schools provide fee discounts to the offspring of senior armed forces, many high-earning military families already benefit from government subsidies that pay fees at elite schools like Eton.