One highlight of today's A level results was the great results from a sixth form college in Newham. Based in one of the most deprived boroughs in the country, over 60 of its students are set to go to Russell Group universities. It is a college that succeeds in getting more disadvantaged students
into higher education than any other sixth form provider in the country.
No, I am not referring to LAE (the London Academy of Excellence) whose press release was reproduced without question by newspapers such as the Guardian
. LAE boasted that 40% of its sixth formers secured AAB in traditional subjects. But,as the article notes, LAE is highly selective, requiring 5 A* or A grades at GCSE to gain admission.
"School that selects only the most academic students achieves above average results" would hardly be a convincing headline. Indeed DfE statistics
reveal that on average at selective schools 40% of students achieve AAB at A level (or 32.4% where at least two are in "facilitating subjects").
Those students should be congratulated on their success, as should the staff who supported them. But the impression that LAE likes to give that it is giving chances where none existed before is misleading. To support this argument, they like to quote outdated figures. For instance the LAE press release
today states that in 2011 only 39 Newham sixth formers secured places at Russell Group universities. But they must know that in 2013 no less than 60 achieved Russell Group places from just one other local provider, Newvic SIxth Form College.
It was Newvic that I was referring to in the first paragraph. Where LAE was acclaimed in the Times for the fact that 100 of their students had Russell Group offers, Newvic this year received 137 Russell Group offers
- but without the press coverage lauded on this free school.
The two colleges are very different. Newvic is genuinely inclusive and comprehensive and accepts virtually all the young eople who apply to study there. It seeks to fully serve the local community and successfully provides a mix of academic and vocational qualifications.
The trend towards selection in sixth forms, even in comprehensive schools, is disturbing and Newvic shows that there is an alternative. It is one of many many sixth form providers across the country that shows it is possible to successfully provide great education and meet the needs of the full range of students.
For more information: do check out the great blog
from Newvic's Principal, Eddie Playfair.
Note: Corrections have been made to this post, following feedback from NewVIc. The 137 Russell Group offers was originally ascribed to last year, but is the figure for this year. The number of NewVIc students accepted last year to Russell Group universities was originally listed as 68.