HC Deb 14 June 1994 vol 244 c511
14. Mr. Moss

To ask the Secretary of State for Education what proportion of secondary schools have a sixth form; and what steps he is taking to encourage the greater use of sixth forms.

Mr. Patten

About three in five secondary schools have a sixth form. Wherever possible, we want young people to be able to choose whether to continue their education in a school sixth form or a college, consistent with our policy of encouraging diversity and choice. I published guidelines on 16 February setting out the criteria against which I will judge proposals for new sixth forms.

Mr. Moss

Does my right hon. Friend agree—[Interruption.]—that parental choice would be greatly improved if we accorded sixth form status to all the grant-maintained schools that have applied for it?

Mr. Patten

As my hon. Friend can judge from the warm welcome that it received, that was an extremely popular question. Sixth forms are popular with schools. For some schools, to have no sixth form is like being a body with no head. We are also keen to give diversity and choice to all 16 and 17-year-olds, which is why we are increasing provision for grant-maintained schools to have sixth forms, with a 25 per cent. increase in the number of sixth form college places in the next three years.