It was with interest that I read the letter published in the Rutland Times from the senior leadership team of Casterton Business and Enterprise College regarding their sixth form provision, locally known as Rutland County College. There were a number of points made that readers would benefit from further elaboration, the statistics provided in that letter do not give a full picture and certainly do not fully reflect my own experience of the provision offered by Casterton.
Firstly, Casterton should not put too much emphasis on the number of applications they have received from Catmose students, we encourage students to apply to at least two providers but the majority apply to three. It would be helpful to see published therefore how many students actually attend Casterton’s sixth form at Rutland County College. Of the last Catmose Cohort, I understand that only 20% of students chose Casterton, 80% of students chose to attend other providers, often having to travel considerable distances to do so. My previous commentary on Catmose student destinations can be read by clicking here.
Secondly, Casterton quotes the percentage of students gaining A*-C grades, this unfortunately is not a measure that Catmose students or 6th forms normally put a great deal of emphasis on. The reason for this is that the grade ‘C’ at Advanced level does not usually give students access to the better universities. If you look at Oakham School’s website for example they quote that 82% of students achieve A* – B grades, with over half of all grades at A/A*, they also publish individual subject results by grade; there is no mention of grade ‘C’. I would encourage Casterton to emulate this practice and publish the same figures, which would give parents a more useful indicator of their child’s likely success. It is also useful to look at the Department for Education’s local post-16 league table, replicated here:
Thirdly, Casterton quotes that a sixth form of less that 200 is unsustainable, a figure I agree with, however they do not go on to say how many students are studying at their own provision. The department for education quotes in the 2011 league tables that only 83 students completed their courses at Casterton, is this sustainable provision?
Finally, I agree with Casterton that three sixth forms in the County would not work, just as Casterton’s sixth form based in Oakham is also proving itself not to be viable (at least on the DFE figures we have access to). It remains my view therefore that we need a Rutland College which has its own independent headteacher, governed by the three 11-16 providers in partnership with an established and respected existing 6th form provider. If this could become a reality perhaps then we would have a provision that means the 80% of current Catmose students who leave state education in Rutland would stay. I would be very interested to hear if this is a view that others in the County share; the College will be carrying out its own consultation with staff, parents and our students during the course of this term.