Is Sixth Form Compulsory in the UK? Why You Should Consider A Sixth-Form College

is sixth form compulsory 2023
Image source: pexels

Is six for compulsory? No, Sixth form is not compulsory in the UK, but it is a popular choice for students who want to continue their education after GCSEs. 

Sixth form colleges offer different courses, including A-levels, BTECs, and vocational qualifications.

This post will give you a clear knowledge on the question ” Is Sixth Form Compulsory?’ And reasons why you should consider A Sixth Form College.

What is Sixth Form?

Sixth form is the final two years of secondary education in England, Northern Ireland, Wales, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and some other Commonwealth countries. 

Students prepare for A-level or similar examinations like the IB or Pre-U. 

In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the term Key Stage 5 has the same meaning. It only refers to academic education and not to vocational education.

Related: Is Sixth Form College Classified as Higher or Further Education?

How is Sixth Form Offered?

Sixth form can be offered in two different settings:

Sixth form colleges: These are independent colleges that specialize in sixth form education.

School sixth forms: These are sixth forms that are attached to secondary schools.

Both types of sixth form offer a wide range of courses, including A-levels, BTECs, and vocational qualifications. 

Sixth form students have the opportunity to participate in a variety of extracurricular activities, such as sports, clubs, and societies.

Is Sixth Form Compulsory in the UK?

Sixth form is not compulsory in the UK, but it is a popular choice for students who want to continue their education after GCSEs.

However,  it can help students to improve their grades, increase their job prospects, and earn higher earnings.

Students who are under the age of 18 are required to be in education or training, but this could involve attending a sixth form college, an apprenticeship, or another type of training.

Read More: What Are Sixth Forms Colleges in the UK?

How Does Sixth Form in the UK Work?

In the United Kingdom, “sixth form” refers to the educational stage that students typically enter at the age of 16, following the completion of their General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) exams. 

The sixth form is a two-year period of education that is part of a secondary school or college and serves as a bridge between compulsory education (up to age 16) and higher education or employment.

During the sixth form, students usually study for two years to prepare for their A-level (Advanced Level) examinations, which are critical for university admissions. 

Alternatively, some students may pursue vocational qualifications or apprenticeships during this stage. Sixth forms offer a more specialized and focused curriculum, allowing students to delve deeper into subjects of their choice compared to the broader GCSE curriculum.

Sixth forms can be part of secondary schools or colleges, and they play a crucial role in helping students transition to higher education or the workforce by providing advanced academic or vocational training courses.

What are the Benefits of Attending Sixth Form? 

Here are some of the benefits of attending sixth form:

Improved academic achievement: Students who attend sixth form typically achieve higher grades than students who do not.

Increased job prospects: Students who have A-levels or BTECs are more likely to get a good job than students who do not.

Higher earnings: Students who have A-levels or BTECs typically earn more money than students who do not.

Greater access to university: Students who have A-levels are more likely to be accepted into university than students who do not.

Related: How Long is Sixth Form in the UK? A Guide To Private Sixth Form In The UK

Why Should You Consider a Sixth-Form College?

There are many reasons why you should consider a sixth-form college. Here are a few:

Wide range of courses: Sixth form colleges offer a wide range of courses, so you can find one that is right for you.

Specialist teaching: Sixth form colleges have specialist teachers who can help you to achieve your best.

Small class sizes: Sixth form colleges typically have smaller class sizes than schools, which means that you will get more attention from your teachers.

Independent learning: Sixth form colleges encourage independent learning, which will help you to prepare for university or the workplace.

Extracurricular activities: Sixth form colleges offer a wide range of extracurricular activities, so you can get involved in something that you are passionate about.

What Happens if you don’t go to Sixth Form?

In the UK, it is compulsory to stay in education or training until you are 18 years old. This means that if you don’t go to sixth form, you will need to find another way to meet this requirement. 

There are several options available to you, including:


Apprenticeships are a great way to gain work experience and qualifications while earning a salary. 

You will typically spend one day a week at college and four days a week working for an employer. 

Apprenticeships are available in a wide range of industries, so there is something to suit everyone.

Read Related Post: Can You Move Sixth Form in Year 12?


Traineeships are shorter than apprenticeships and are designed to give you the skills and experience you need to get a job. 

You will spend six weeks to one year working for an employer, and you will also receive some training.


Several colleges offer courses for students who have not achieved the grades required for sixth form. 

These courses can be a good way to improve your grades and prepare for university or a career.

Home Education: 

If you are not happy with any of the other options available to you, you can choose to home-educate yourself. This means that you will be responsible for your education, and you will need to follow the national curriculum.

What do you do if you don’t want to go to sixth form?

You can choose any of these routes if you do not want to go to sixth form. 

A-Levels – It is a highly academic qualification concentrated on one subject, usually taken 3 at a time, or in conjunction with other types of qualification at a sixth form or college. Typically lead to university.

BTECs –These are vocational qualifications that arm students with skills in a particular area of work, with the intent to enter that area later in life. They are typically taken at college.

T-Levels – They are mixed academic and vocational qualifications focused on one area of work, with a specialism. Usually taken at a college, including a work placement of 40 days within the course.

Apprenticeships and Traineeships 

See More: Personal Statement Examples For Sixth Form: 2024 College Guide

 Are there Alternatives to Sixth Form? Is sixth form compulsory

If you decide that sixth form is not the right choice for you, there are several alternative paths to consider:

Vocational Training: Explore vocational training programs that provide practical skills and certifications in fields like healthcare, IT, or construction.

Apprenticeships: Consider apprenticeship programs that combine on-the-job training with classroom learning and lead to industry-specific qualifications.

College Courses: Enroll in a college program that aligns with your career goals and offers a more hands-on or vocational approach to education.

Gap Year: Take a gap year to gain work experience, travel, volunteer, or explore your interests before committing to further education.

Also See: What is the Uniform Policy at Sixth Form College?

Is Sixth Form Compulsory in UK

No! It is not compulsory, but so many persons see it as a beautiful choice o make.

Is Sixth Form the Same as College

As was previously indicated, individuals between the ages of sixteen and nineteen can receive an academic education from sixth form schools and sixth form colleges.

On the other hand, anyone over 16 who wants to study at an FE college can receive both academic and vocational training there. So, that simply means that Six Form is the same as six form college.

Why is it Called Sixth Form

Students in their first and second years of A-levels are referred to as being in sixth form. Before numerical year groups serving as the primary point of reference for each age group, it originated in the 1900s.

A-level pupils were the sixth of five groups of students, or “forms,” that comprised all students below the age of what is now considered years 12 and 13. This is why it was named the “sixth” form.

Sixth Form Age

The final two years of secondary education, or sixth form, are referred to as the ages of 16 to 18 in the educational systems of England, Northern Ireland, Wales, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, and a few other Commonwealth nations.

Also Read: Can You Get Kicked Out of Sixth Form For Attendance?

6th Form is What Grade

Year 12 is the Lower Sixth, which is the first year of sixth form, and Year 13 is the Upper Sixth. Some state schools and public (fee-charging) schools still employ the outdated numbering scheme. Specialized sixth form colleges were introduced in some regions of the nation.

How Long is Sixth Form in UK

Two years
After completing their year 11 education, young people can continue their education by studying for A levels and occasionally vocational certificates in a sixth form. Due to the 2-year curricula offered, most students spend two years in sixth form. The years 12 and 13 are among them.

FAQs on is Sixth Form Compulsory

Can I go to university without attending sixth form?

Yes, you can go to university without attending sixth form. Alternative pathways, such as college courses or apprenticeships, can also lead to university qualifications.

What are the advantages of attending sixth form?

Attending sixth form can prepare you for university, offer vocational training and opportunities to grow. 

Why is sixth form even necessary?

Because 6th form offers 2-year courses, most students stay there for two years. Twelve and thirteen are among them.

What are the prerequisites at the very least for sixth form?

Two GCSE passes at grade A (or grade 7, where applicable) and three at grade B (or grade 6, where applicable) are the minimum academic requirements for admission to the Sixth Form. Additionally, students must have at least a grade 5 in mathematics and English language or literature.


In the UK, sixth form is not compulsory, and students have a range of post-GCSE education options to choose from based on their interests and career aspirations. 

Whether you opt for sixth form, vocational training, apprenticeships, or other paths, the key is to make an informed decision that aligns with your goals.


We Also Recommend

You May Also Like