For students who are approaching the end of their GCSEs, they may be considering what their options are for the future. One of the most popular routes for post-16 students to take is receiving education at sixth form college. However, many may worry about the additional charges which could be faced, both at college and indeed at any other place of education. It is vital that you fully understand what charges may be in place before choosing your path.
In the UK, it is a legal requirement for state schools and colleges to offer sixth form education for free. This applies to all students aged 16-18 who are taking further education. However, this doesn’t mean that all education in the UK is free. There are various factors which can contribute to the fees charged. This is including age and the type of institution you choose to go to.
Continuing to read this article will teach you more about when you are required to pay for sixth form and why education is free in the UK.
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Is sixth form free in the UK?
Legally, it is required by the government for all public schools and colleges across the country to grant free education to sixth form students. These institutions receive public funding from the government in order to offer this. For more information about this funding, check out this governmental guide.
Is private sixth form education in the UK free?
Unfortunately, only public state education is free. As private schools are not government funded, they do not provide free sixth form teaching. They decide on their own fees, and these will be depending on the reputation and quality of the school.
Private education is often considered as better than state education because the school can decide on its own curriculum, as discussed in this article. There are usually less students in a class, so each student gets more teaching time and the facilities available are usually of better quality.
For subjects such as sciences and the arts, the better the equipment, the more students will be able to learn in terms of the practical side of lessons. With the extra funding private schools receive from the fees paid by parents, access to better resources is possible.
Check out this article which discusses the pros and cons of private education, including whether paying for sixth form is worth the added cost or not.
Is sixth form free for adults?
In the UK, sixth form education is accessible for free, but only for a limited group of people. Every child aged between 16 and 19 has the opportunity to gain further education completely for free. However, without being granted a bursary, anyone older than this cannot gain full access to level 3 education without any charges.
As an adult in the UK looking for further education, this article taken from the government website explains who is eligible for a bursary and how to apply for one.
Is adult further education classed as sixth form?
Technically speaking, qualifications taken at college by adults are not counted as “sixth form”. In the past, each school year group was named as a “form”, with Years 10 and 11 being fifth form, Years 8 and 9 being fourth form and so on. Therefore, sixth form is the blanket term for students in Years 12 and 13.
Adult education can be taken at a college, but not at a sixth form, hence why education is not free. Click here to read a full explanation of what sixth form actually is, including which age groups it covers, what can be learnt and why the name came about in the first place.
How much is sixth form in the UK?
If a student is not eligible for free education, then the cost can still vary depending on what is being studied and where. For adults, courses are usually charged on an hourly basis, as lots of mature students take part-time courses.
As stated by Lewisham Council in this government article, costs vary for different age brackets and depending on where you come from. In the 2021-22 academic year, European Economic Area (EEA) residents aged 20-64 can usually receive A-Level or BTEC lessons from around £6 per hour. Concessions (aged 65 and over) gain a starting price of £3 per hour whilst non-resident learners will be charged around £7.50.
Typically, an A-Level course involves 360 hours of study in person, taking 2 years to complete. This brings the total for a regular adult to just over £2000 per subject. For a qualification as detailed as an A-Level, you will also be required to study outside lesson time, but this obviously won’t be charged. For more information about how many hours an A-Level is, check out this guide by Bright Knowledge.
How much is private sixth form in the UK?
There are various private schools across the UK, all offering sixth form education at different rates. The cost of private teaching can be anywhere from £10,000 all the way through to £40,000 per year for the top-end schools.
However, the majority of private schools charge the lower-end fee. This makes private education slightly easier to fund for these parents. Look at this article which goes into more detail about the varying costs of private schools across the country.
Some private schools also give students the opportunity to board during term time. This can add further expenses to the sixth form. Usually, the cost of both boarding and learning will be £20,000 at a minimum. Boarding is almost always an optional additional cost.
Do you have to pay any additional costs for sixth form?
Although the government funds schools so that the teaching itself can be provided, schools are perfectly entitled to charge extras. These can come in several forms. Some sixth form colleges may ask you to pay for the supplies you use such as printing and paper costs. Others may require that you buy the textbooks and revision guides given to you.
What lots of colleges may ask you to do is pay for your final exams. The fees vary from exam board to exam board, and the school will tell you how much you are required to pay. This fee will rarely be over £100 per exam.
The other major area for extra costs is in educational trips. There may be visits to useful landmarks, museums and other sites which can boost your learning as a student. For subjects such as Geography, fieldwork is a compulsory part of the A-Level, and you will have to write about your trip in the exam.
However, each of these extra components will come with an added cost, meaning education is not always completely free. That said, these are just small prices to pay when there are A-Level or equivalent qualifications available at the end. For more information about these additional costs, check out this article by the Independent.
Why is education in the UK free?
In 1944, the government made it a legal requirement that all UK students should be able to access education for free up to the age of 18. This is funded by the education budget from the government. The Department for Education, also known as the DfE, spends a great deal of money to allow this scheme to continue. For more information about the history of free education in the UK, check out this guide from the UK Parliament.
Education is so important not only to individuals, but to the future of the country. The further students get in their studies, the better the economy becomes as people take on higher-paying jobs.
This then means that quality of life improves as more doctors, teachers and other professionals enter the system. This is why the government puts so much time and money into sealing the educations of children across the country.