College or sixth form: which is more suitable for your child?

You always want the best for your children. And when they come to the end of year 11 and they’ve completed their GCSEs, it’s time to consider whether they will go to sixth form or to college. Whilst, at the end of the day, it’s clearly up to them which one they attend, there are certain things you can do to help support them in their decision. At you can rise money for your sports team and get paid by doing voluntary work.

One of the things you can do is to sit down and look into what the differences are between the options so that you can help them to choose. When doing this, here are some factors you can both take into consideration:


If your child is settled in their boarding school and they want to remain within a familiar environment, then the best option for them is probably to continue into the sixth form within it. Surrounded by their friends and teachers that know them, it offers structure and support that can be invaluable within their education.

College, however, can feel very daunting as it’s a whole new environment. Like attending university, your child will have to start afresh with making friends and getting familiar with the building, where it’s located, etc. 

The Class/Year Size 

This, of course, will depend on the college or sixth form in question. However, with sixth forms, the year groups tend to be smaller than that of a college (even if it’s a further education college). 

Because of the larger class/year size in college, some students might feel like it’s a little impersonal and whilst this can give them a sense of freedom, they will have to be motivated to manage their own time and complete every deadline on time as teachers won’t be constantly checking in on their progress. With a sixth form, however, the classes could feel more personal and offer them more individual attention. 

What Courses They Offer

Over the last few years, this has changed a little. But a large number of colleges still only offer BTEC, NVQ or other types of courses that are equivalent to A levels. And whilst many universities will recognise this equivalent, others will be specifically looking for A level grades initially. 

When looking at both sixth forms and colleges, it’s important to note what subjects are available and how they could affect your child’s ability to get into university (if they are planning to) in the future. As it’s such an important factor to consider that could impact your child’s career in the future, it’s one that shouldn’t be ignored in the decision process. 

The Timetables

A big difference between both the options is the timetable on offer. With sixth forms, your child’s timetable will typically be full, with them being expected to study/complete coursework or homework within every free lesson.

Whereas with a college timetable, it could vary hugely with what lessons or lectures they will have to attend – plus, they can choose to study on either a full-time course or a part-time course. 

An Alternative: Switching Schools For Sixth Form

Despite the differences between the sixth form that exists within their school and local colleges, there is another option to consider – and that is changing schools to another further education sixth form. An option open to anyone in this country, it can be the happy medium of offering a welcoming school environment, with courses that align with their interests.

Of course, similarly to attending a college, your child will want to be comfortable with starting fresh in a new environment. But if they are happy to do this, then there’s no reason why it can’t be a great path to take. To help determine which one is best for them, they can also attend open days (such as at this sixth form in Leicester) in which they can get a flavour of what it would be like to attend there before making their final decision.

Photo by Anastasiya Gepp from Pexels

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