Establishing or closing a sixth-form college

How to apply to establish or close a sixth-form college and how further education (FE) colleges can convert to become a sixth form.

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Applies to England

Proposals from individuals or organisations who wish to open or close a sixth-form college must be approved by the Secretary of State for Education.

The Secretary of State must also approve any proposals from FE colleges who want to convert to become a sixth-form college.

Find more information on FE colleges re-designating as sixth forms in section 33C of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992.

Before you submit your proposal you must:

  • publish your proposal and circulate it locally
  • run a local consultation on the proposal details

Find full details of the application process in Statutory Instrument 2012 No 1158 of The Sixth Form Corporations (Publication of Proposals)(England) Regulations 2012.

Publishing your proposal

You must publish your proposal at least once and 4 months in advance of the suggested opening, closing or re-designation date in:

  • at least 1 local newspaper
  • at least 1 national newspaper

You must include:

  • the proposed name and address of the sixth-form college
  • the proposed opening or closing date
  • the reasons for opening or closing the college
  • a description of the type of education that the college will provide
  • the percentage of pupils who will be aged over 16 , but under 19, on the date of opening
  • forecast figures of the number of full-time and part-time students on the roll
  • the name and address of the corporation that will run the sixth-form college

Where you are proposing to close a sixth-form college, you must also include details of:

  • the arrangements that will be put in place for students who have not completed their courses
  • the arrangements for the transfer of the property, rights and liabilities of the corporation

Circulating your proposal

Once your proposal has been published, you must send copies to:

  • the governing body of any FE institution in your local authority
  • the governing body or proprietor of any maintained school or academy which provides full-time education for the 16 to 19 age group in your local authority
  • your local authority
  • the Chief Executive of Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA)
  • your local member of parliament
  • any other member of parliament whose constituents are likely to affected by the proposal

Local consultation of your proposal

The public consultation period for your proposal begins on the date of its newspaper publication, and lasts for 1 month.

You must respond to any questions or queries you receive during the consultation period.

At the end of the consultation period, you must provide a copy of the consultation summary, free of charge, to anybody who requests one.

Where you are proposing to close a college, you must publish a summary of the consultation within 2 months. This should be in the same local and national newspapers where your proposal was originally published.

Submitting your application

If you are applying to open or dissolve a sixth-form college

Once the consultation process has closed, you can then submit your application to us.

You must include the following information:

  • details of who you, the proposers, are and your suitability to run a sixth-form college
  • the educational rationale for the proposal, including why you chose the sixth-form college model over other models available
  • the proposed provision that your sixth-form college will offer
  • a map indicating the proposed location of the college, including any existing post-16 provision
  • costs relating to the conversion process, such as changes to official stationary, running the consultations and contacting parents
  • copies of all responses to the proposal received during the consultation period, including copies of correspondence
  • details of any issues raised by stakeholders, such as the local authority or other education providers for the 16 to 19 age group in your local authority

If you are proposing to dissolve a college, you must also include:

  • details of the bodies to which you plan to the transfer of properties, rights and liabilities on the date of dissolution

If you are applying to re-designate an FE college as a sixth-form college

You can submit your application to re-designate an FE college at any time, but the actual re-designation of a college will usually only take effect on the following dates:

  • 1 September (for applications submitted on or before 1 April)
  • 1 April (for applications submitted on or before 1 December)

In order to submit an application, you must send the following information to us:

  • proof that 80% of your total pupils are aged 16 or over, but under 19, on the date of your application
  • evidence, such as correspondence or consultation responses, to show that the following organisations support your proposal:
    • your local authority
    • ESFA
    • local feeder schools who provide pupils to your college
    • other local providers who might be affected by your change of status

Contact details

Sixth-form colleges team

Ministerial and Public Communications Division
Department for Education
Piccadilly Gate
Store Street
M1 2WD

Contact form

Telephone 0370 000 2288

Fax 0161 600 1332


There is no set appeal process for unsuccessful applications, but we will provide you with the reasons why your request was unsuccessful.


Once we receive your proposal, we will:

  • acknowledge receipt of the documentation
  • request further information if required
  • forward your proposal to the Secretary of State for consideration

We will notify you of the Secretary of State’s decision.

Published 25 March 2014
Last updated 4 July 2017 + show all updates
  1. Updated Sixth-form colleges team contact details.

  2. First published.