Ofsted has today launched a consultation on much-anticipated proposals that would allow learners to compare the post-16 performance of general FE colleges with schools.

The education watchdog is looking at introducing separate judgements for sixth forms in its school inspection reports.

As reported in FE Week last year, the extra grade would reverse a decision made three years ago to produce a single overall grade for schools.

Ofsted’s national director for schools, Michael Cladingbowl, said: “It’s important that parents and young people have a clear understanding of how well the school’s sixth form is doing so they can make informed choices about where to continue their studies when they reach 16.”

The eight-week consultation, which ends on May 13, asks: Should there be a separate graded judgement on the effectiveness of a school’s sixth form? The change would apply to maintained schools and academies.

An Ofsted spokesperson told FE Week in July: “We are planning whether to provide a separate grading for a school’s sixth form within inspection reports.”

She added that the effectiveness of post-16 provision did already inform wider inspection judgements on a school and that Ofsted recognised the importance of the importance of sixth forms in helping students to progress to employment or higher education.

The consultation also proposes introducing separate graded judgements on the quality of nursery and reception in its inspection reports.

A spokesperson for the education watchdog said evidence from the 7,000 inspections it carried out each year indicated that “not all schools need to be inspected in the same way”.

Mr Cladingbowl added: “We are keen to hear the views of parents and learners as well as providers about our proposals to bring in these separate judgements.

“We are also giving a lot of thought to how school inspection might develop over the longer term and will bring forward proposals for consultation in due course.”

Visit the Ofsted website for details on how to take part in the consultation.