A-Levels at Isle of Wight College Sixth Form to be phased out (Updated)

Despite their most successful year yet for A-level and AS level results, the Isle of Wight College will be phasing out A-Levels and concentrating on vocational courses from September 2015.

f6rm college

Thanks to Peter Thompson from Isle of Wight College for this clarification on changes planned at the F6rm College.

He confirmed that the building will still continue to be used by the College once all the A-Level pupils had completed their courses.

Students who were due to join this year are being given one-on-one advice of other options available on the Island. Those who have completed their first (AS) year, will able to continue at the college to complete their second year (A2), Peter Thompson told OnTheWight – Ed

For the last five years, The Isle of Wight College has developed its A-level Centre to provide high quality A-level courses for the Island’s 16-19 year olds.

This year’s results have been excellent – 99% Pass rate in 2014/15; 15.5% being A*/A – and the vast majority of students will be progressing to study a degree, take an apprenticeship or enter employment. Over 170 students will be progressing to Higher Education from the College this year; our highest number ever.

Ceasing A-Level recruitment from September
However, informed by the recent review of the Island’s secondary school provision, population forecasts for the Island and new government policies for the further development of vocational education and apprenticeships, the College has made the decision to cease recruitment to A-levels from September 2015.

This will reduce the level of duplication of A-level courses locally, allowing other providers to offer the wide range of subjects needed to guarantee effective and successful progression for their students.

Focus on vocational courses
The College will now focus its development on vocational courses, including A-level equivalents, thus providing the island’s 16-19 year old students with a greater choice of courses and routes to employment or university.

Chair of Governors, Peter Conway, explained the decision:

“The College established its 6th Form over five years ago. Since then, more island schools are offering A-levels and we believe the extent of A-level provision across the island is more than sufficient to meet all student needs. We are immensely proud of the College’s A-level students’ achievements, but the Board has to look to the future.”

He added.

“The days when academic qualifications were the only route to good jobs and university are past. Our new investments in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) and state-of-the-art Centre of Excellence for Composites, Marine and Advanced Manufacture at Whippingham, provide immensely valuable and exciting opportunities for College students.

“Working closely with key industries and employers, the College’s courses will continue to provide opportunities for students at all levels, helping them to prepare for work or further study at university or elsewhere.”

Update 14:22 Added some further explanation to the top of the article.

Wednesday, 19th August, 2015 12:38pm


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47 Comments on "A-Levels at Isle of Wight College Sixth Form to be phased out (Updated)"

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Geoff Lumley

So around 100 students who were expecting to go there in 2/3 weeks time will have to find somewhere else, fast. Disgraceful. Will be interesting to know where the blame lies: Government funding cuts or lack of foresight on the part of College governors.


The college has failed to attract enough A level students to ensure that this facility continues to offer A levels . Part of the problem is that they have always “cherry picked” their A level students to ensure that the results are high and this practice eliminates many prospective students and so keeps the students too low to be viable.

Vix Lowthion

There is no cherry picking – just very similar entry requirements across our sixth forms. The full range of abilities are welcomed and is more than evident. It’s a sad day for students with a range of abilities.


What will happen to mature students and adults who want to do an “A” level, where will they go?

Does it mean that teachers and lecturers will have to leave and find other jobs?

Compare and contrast. (per IW College) The days when academic qualifications were the only route to good jobs and university are past. (per Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.) The majority of UK university graduates are working in jobs that do not require a degree, with over-qualification at “saturation point… Overall, 58.8% of graduates are in jobs deemed to be non-graduate roles,” For which the latter have… Read more »
Vix Lowthion
I am in exactly the same position as all the brilliant F6rm staff… We have 9 months to get our students through their A levels and to find another job. This Sixth form is the best state provision for A levels on the island. And due to government cuts to Further Education, the college have chosen to withdraw A level provision. The biggest losers are island young… Read more »

So for those teenagers keen to pursue an academic career we should be encouraging them to become hairdressers and tyre fitters? Of course we need vocational courses but we need learning opportunities for all – and that includes mature students looking to re-train to change or improve career paths. Incidentally Cicero, student loans are not included in mortgage calculations.


…. but they are in the “affordability” calculations.

BTW “Graduates with a mountain of student debt could find their future plans of buying a home thwarted after the Financial Conduct Authority confirmed the debts are now considered by mortgage lenders after the introduction of the Mortgage Market Review in April.”
(Money Mail 2 June 2014)

Corinna Westley
Thanks for that Peter Thompson? I thought we were waiting for our potential AS level students to understand the situation, before blarting it to the world? Perhaps if we had been more eager and had had it sanctioned to blart to the world that we are THE BEST A-level provider on the island,this wouldn’t be happening! For the island’s kids, this is a massive blow. Hampshire CC… Read more »
Geoff Lumley

Corinna. That’s what I heard too. An embargo until Friday. Who are these insensitive governors ? they should all resign in disgrace.

Geoff Lumley

Corinna. The Council cannot force the closure of Academy-run Sixth forms even if they only have 14 students starting in September, as is apparently the case at Cowes Enterprise College.

Corinna Westley
I know Geoff, totally disappointing,our kids coming don’t even know, and Peter Thompson is jumping around advertising his vocational push, obviously supported by a government hoping that economic recovery comes from exporting goods in competition from China. Its really bad taste and contrary to what we were told to do and behave in accordance with. Its juts PT being almighty powerful I think and wanting to reserve… Read more »
John Peckham

As a factual correction to Mt Lumley, the current enrolment for September at Cowes Enterprise College is many times more than the 14 he suggests. Final numbers will not be known until September as we are enrolling up to Friday 5th September, but we are planning for well over 100 students.

Geoff Lumley

Apologies if I was mis-informed, but my source is one I consider very reliable.

Sally Perry

The release was embargoed until Friday, but once students started receiving their letters and the closure discussed publicly, the embargo was lifted by the college to ensure their official word was also in the public domain.

Corinna Westley
In addition, I’d like to add… A-levels may be becoming increasingly redundant for many….but I can assure everyone on the IOW. If you want your kids to have open ended opportunities, and you want the best Universities and Employers to look at your children in an equal grounding with 18-22 year olds from across the world,there is no better education than A-levels. Course, they are hard, they… Read more »
Corinna Westley

Its a College Decision, its not viable for us sadly, despite being the best, we cannot subsidis3e post 16 education with 11-16 as the schools do, so we have too few bums on seats,…so many kids/parents..happy to continue with A-level provision, where it cannot be provided with any level of proficiency..


This raises the question of why Christ the King has been able to extend it’s Sixth Form, even though they don’t have enough classroom space and are installing port-a-cabins? If their provision had been capped to match capacity, would the College provision have been forced to close?


Funding for 11-16 is ring fenced, funding for A levels has dropped by approx 30%. Totton college closed its sixth form last year, Fareham a couple of years ago. Schools can subsidise small sixth forms offering a limited range of subjects, colleges do not have that luxury. It is a sad day, but not unexpected.

Stewart Blackmore
Where is the joined-up thinking here? Has the IW Council been consulted on this or has the college made this decision unilaterally, with no consultation or discussion with students/parents/teachers/unions? I’m all for vocational education and training – but this seems to me to be very short sighted, having seen for myself the huge success of the 6th Form during the recent election campaign when the students held… Read more »
Please note: Four months for analysis? ………………………………………………… Isle of Wight Secondary (11-16) and Post-16 A-Level Education Consultation – UNDERGOING ANALYSIS Start of consultation: 26 Jan 2015 End of consultation: 30 Apr 2015 Background: The purpose of this consultation is to get the views of parents, young people, education providers and the wider community on the best way to organise education provision, ensuring that the attainment and future… Read more »

Maybe it’s because officers are struggling to rationalise the alleged 1900 surplus places given the Consultation document (compare Tables 1 and 7) appears to indicate otherwise?

Does anyone have any suggestions for those students who were intending to go to the sixth form college for their A Levels – particularly West Wight kids for whom travelling to Ryde, Sandown or Cowes is impractical and unaffordable? It must be gutting for those teachers who have worked so hard to develop a good standard provision in a relatively short time, and it’s yet another body… Read more »
Vix Lowthion
It does. Because it’s a budget decision. It isn’t a council decision. It is up to college management. I completely agree about all the students. I met dozens of them in July during our taster sessions. Bright and enthusiastic and motivated young people, who don’t want to continue education in a school environment and who appreciate the excellent results we have at F6rm. Can they get places… Read more »

Yes Vix- it *is* about much more, such as forcing the students into Academies so that Gove/Morgan friends and donors can shovel more public money into their private pockets.

Corinna Westley
Oh indeed, a playground for the elderly,and those with pre-school children, who can move within 2-3 years,thats all this council and authorities provide for, and when you have such a large population of “dependent” either elderly or unemployed folk…its never gonna work….the tourists aren’t even really coming anymore because our hotels and complexes are so run-down and dated; Short-termist, atitudes, and not investing for the future,not keeping… Read more »

Interesting to see an A’ Level teacher using the word ‘gonna’ in her posts !

Personally I just wanted to focus for a minute on the students who will be returning to us next month to continue their A2 studies (and their worried parents). Not to negate any of the above views, but all this turmoil and accusations of mismanagement must be extremely concerning for our existing students and families. It is a really difficult time but one which I hope will… Read more »
The problem is those “skilled specialist teachers” will now be looking for other employment (and who can blame them). Obviously there is no point in replacing those that leave with permanent staff, so the remaining students who are studying for their A2s are likely to see more and more of their valued teachers being replaced by supply teachers as the year progresses. This has to be massively… Read more »
To avoid being hit by a double-whammy given the criminally short notice by IW College volte-face on A-levels, parents of those students affected by the College’s volte face should be made aware that Child Benefit stops on 31 August after your child’s 16th birthday but continues if they stay in approved education or training, but you must tell the Child Benefit Office. Approved education is defined as:… Read more »

Phasing out ‘A’ Levels is the wrong direction as far as the Trades Council is concerned. The Trades unions,teachers and lecturers, students and working people need to work to reverse the decision.Workers have struggled long and hard to provide educational facility to develop themselves and uphold their dignity.

This move should not pass!

We should be the decision-makers.

Victor Meldrew

Lots of comment – as is natural – but nothing from IW Council Leader/Cabinet Member for Education. Maintaining low profile – and with good reason.

What are we doing with our childrens education on this Island?

Mike Vallender
An interesting series of comments and my initial thoughts are that though this will effect a number of young students in our current education system, at least the college are not leaving this open ended, and have said, it appear that the renewed focus will be to assist vocational training and education. This will primarily enable those who are either going through a period of losing work,… Read more »
Colleges, like schools, shouldn’t choose either ‘academic’ A-levels or ‘vocational’ training. They should do BOTH. And people, whether children or adults, shouldn’t assume that they’re suitable for only one of two choices, either ‘academic’ (code for a route into middle-class jobs) or ‘vocational’ (code for a route into working-class jobs). We should all be free to be both practical and academic. Whatever happened to the ideal of… Read more »
Mike Vallender
That made me :-) Rowan for I do not believe vocational = what you have put in brackets. Vocational I consider to be a pracical / educational way of supplementing those ‘gap’years when people of younger generation may have left school with few qualifications and the legal needs of employment changed. Areas such as Health and Safety, Practical skills, CV skills, management might have been acquired, but… Read more »
John Jones
This is simply market forces in action. CTKC has by far the most successful 6th Form on the island, despite no support from the useless council, and the others can’t compete. Don’t forget, the original plan was for all Island sixth forms to close and everyone to go to the College! CTKC sent students to Oxford, Cambridge, Ivy League in USA and over 25 students to Russell… Read more »
Vix Lowthion
John? One of the plans in the consultation document was for a new Sixth Form College to be established for the whole island – not to send all our 16-19 yr olds to the F6rm building at the college. Congratulations to the students at CTK for their well deserved A Level success. But you miss the point. Education when led by market forces does not serve all… Read more »
Vix Lowthion

John – these are the stats for island A levels. They show a variety of successful institutions. And I cannot find the evidence to back up your assertion that CTK is ‘by far and away’ the most successful.


Mike Vallender
This might well be market action JJ but when has it ever been about competition and competitors. CTKC and all other 6th forms aim to enable their students to achieve, to the best of their academic abilities, through the skills of their teachers and the standards of education they gain through their formative learning years. CTKC might be the best at this time but I am sure… Read more »
Rowan is right, this is about working class kids,dignity versus elitism and privilege. Vocational diplomas are meant to be NCO’s and academic qualifications for officers. The clock is being turned back before our very eyes. It was all about “getting on in society”, “climbing the ladder” and this is what Jeremy Corbyn is raising about “equality” and the “gap getting wider”. It is about opportunity and social… Read more »
The gap isn’t getting wider. There is an EXCESS of 6th form places on the IW. No student who wished to attend 6th form and go on to higher education will be denied this opportunity du to lack of places. As for Corbyn? He is the Labour party’s suicide note. A return to the bad old days of the 1980’s with an unelectable Labour party and an… Read more »
Rod Manley

What are the unions doing? What is ATL doing? Also what are the parents going to do about it?

Vix Lowthion

What can be done in the 12 days remaining before enrolment? The courses for AS levels have been withdrawn by the college. It is not a political decision with discussion and debate and consultation. If the college management choose to remove courses there is very little comeback – especially on that time scale.

Vix, Organise a “teach in” on enrollment day in one of the rooms.Ask the students for help. Also make sure ATL are involved. Make a list of students who want to enroll and present them to the enrollment officers. You are in there Vix, fight for the jobs and for education.You have influence now as leader of the Greens on the island. Ask for support. Try it… Read more »
Mike Vallender

milly that reads as dis-service and disrespectful of others that might well have had continuous working careers from leaving school, and either not had the opportunity or time and availability to show that working life is about balancing many areas, or been able to keep abreast of the changes that have occurred through the generations. Both employment and education are about the benefits of life long learning.

Mike Vallender

One other point I will make is that this is why progression is about stages of education and work and why young people that have not necessarily attained A levels find, use and gain from routes of opportunity such as Apprenticeships.

This enables them to have a balance of learning practical and theoretical skills working, in many cases alongside experienced workers who can become mentors and aid them.


This is particularly sad for those young people who are academically able but who don’t thrive in a school environment. The College offered them an alternative way to take A levels that will no longer be available.