School sixth forms are to receive a separate grade from September 2014, Ofsted has confirmed.
The decision to include a separate grade follows an open consultation which ended in May, which sought views on the introduction of separate graded judgements on early school years and the sixth form.
In a letter to schools this week, chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw (pictured), said: “As you may be aware, Ofsted consulted recently on plans to introduce separate graded judgements on the quality of schools’ work in the early years and sixth form. We consulted on this because of the vital importance of both of these stages.
“These proposals received strong support. I intend, therefore, to introduce separate graded judgements for the early years and sixth form, where these apply, from 1 September 2014. These grades may influence the judgement on a school’s overall effectiveness.”
Ofsted first told FE Week it was considering a separate grade in July last year, and at the time Joy Mercer, the Association of Colleges (AoC) director of policy, said separating sixth forms was “the right decision”.
“AoC has been campaigning for a separate grading for schools sixth forms for some time so we are very pleased that Ofsted have listened,”
She added there was “an obvious injustice” in cases the AoC was aware of, where school and academy sixth forms did not retain their students after the age of 17, failed to achieve success rates comparable to a local college, but were part of a school rated “good” or “outstanding” by Ofsted.
The Sixth Form Colleges’ Association (SFCA) has also campaigned for this measure.
Deputy chief executive James Kewin said: “We are very pleased that Ofsted will be introducing a separate graded judgement for school sixth forms from September.
“This is something that SFCA has campaigned vigorously for, and we believe it will help learners to make informed judgements about where to study.
“It will be very interesting to see the details of the proposal – we believe the judgement for the sixth form should act as a limiting grade for the whole institution, and that inspection practice (particularly the use of data) should be consistent across all sixth form providers.”