Sixth form

The lower and upper sixth forms (Years 12 and 13) are usually described simply as the sixth form. After GCSEs it is not unusual to move on to a new school or a sixth-form college.

These two years are, to a greater or lesser extent, seen as a stepping stone between school and university – after all, the pupils will almost certainly be adults before they leave. There is usually a separate sixth-form centre or area in the school, and a sixth-form house at boarding schools. Pupils (often now called ‘students’) are usually given more freedom, may not be required to wear the school uniform and may take on positions of responsibility within the school – but the approach remains very variable. In particular, the extent to which there is academic freedom will depend on the confidence of the school that its position in the league tables will not be greatly affected by an underperforming sixth former.