ABSTRACT

The growth of the sixth form college in the late 1970s was a remarkable phenomenon. By 1980, about 60,000 students were enrolled in colleges, over 12,000 of them in tertiary establishments which combined sixth form and further education curricula. This represented only a fraction of the total number of students in full-time sixteen-to-nineteen education - the A-level group alone now exceeds 300,000 1 - but it was a very significant fraction for a number of reasons. First, because the colleges were very rapidly winning the approval of students, parents and educational researchers; second, because, as had already been suggested, they represented an ideology of sixth form education which was different from, and a potent rival to that projected by the public schools, and third, because there was a strong likelihood that the first wave of colleges - those created by reorganization plans evolved by authorities moving to a comprehensive system - would be followed by a second wave promoted by authorities which had already reorganized, but now saw compelling reasons to give up their initial choice of an eleven-to-eighteen solution.