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‘Elite’ sixth forms reveal ‘clearing house’ careers role

The new “elite” sixth forms run by leading academy trust Star and Eton College will provide a “clearing house” role to help bright pupils in their areas to stay in education.

The organisations made a raft of commitments today, announcing they have formed a new “think and do” tank called the Eton Star Partnership to “seek solutions to systemic challenges”.

The group’s first report found more than 5,000 youngsters with at least an A in English and maths in 2013 did not go on to get a university degree by the age of 25 (9 per cent of the cohort).

While many of these youngsters went on to do the equivalent of what is now a degree apprenticeship, the report said university alternative pathways are too “small scale”.

The report said the “system must be able to scale up different and legitimate post 16 options for some, including those who perform academically well at GCSE”. A “better system of ‘second chances’ will benefit this group, and others too”.

Star and Eton have been given government approval to open three selective sixth forms in Dudley, Middlesbrough, and Oldham to help get more bright pupils into top universities.

Alongside the schools, they will open education research centres (centres for innovation and learning research, CIRLs) which will work to “identify talented young students in years 10 and 11 – and even earlier – and to work with their schools on an intervention programme to encourage them to stay in structured post-16 environments after GCSE”.

“Such environments will include our college but will not be limited to that; we want to also act as a clearing house for pathways to local degree apprenticeship opportunities and other post 16 and post 18 pathways, working with local colleges, university outreach partnerships, and all others in this space”.

‘Clear information and guidance offer’

Outreach work through the CIRLs will also provide a “clear information and guidance offer to better inform these cohorts about what their options are”.

“Alongside this, we will deliver a programme in 11-16 education not just of academic support, but of character education, leadership, and aspirations – such that talented students recognise the options open to them, and are less likely to disengage”.

Sir Hamid Patel

More than 100 schools already get support through the Eton X digital platform.

The partnership has also pledged to help deliver “intervention structures” and “intensive support” at partner schools after GCSE results are issued to stop bright pupils “drifting into post 16 education without much clear idea”.

“That four to six week period after results is an intense time when decisions can be made and pathways shown, backed by actual, rather than forecast results.”

Sir Hamid Patel, chief executive of Star, said the “partnership is an incredibly strong one, with foundations in both a shared vision for education and in tangible delivery”.

The partnership has committed to publish research shedding new insight in key barriers, gather influential leaders to enrich CPD and drive policy and put its research into practice.

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