BSix Sixth Form College
BSix Sixth Form College: Brooke House is a sixth form college located in Upper Clapton, London in the United Kingdom. It officially opened in September 2002, giving students in Hackney the opportunity to study at a college close to where they live. Brooke House has previously been the site of other educational institutions.
BSix Brooke House Sixth Form College was opened on the Brooke House school site in September 2002. It was set up by the then Secretary of State for Education, David Blunkett, and formed part of an unrealised plan to build eleven new sixth form colleges in London. BSix is unusual in the sixth form college sector because it offers courses at all levels and across a wide range of subjects, including vocational courses, like Hair and Beauty, Business and Art as well as a significant number of “A” levels.
After an initial surge of enthusiasm, the educational context changed rapidly. Hackney’s local education authority, The Learning Trust, introduced a programme to create five City Academies in the borough, all with sixth forms. As a consequence, many other 11-16 schools applied to open their own sixth forms.
The growth in student recruitment was not as rapid as the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), the funding body, had anticipated. In 2005 the College was inspected by Ofsted and judged to be satisfactory. In April 2006 the founding Principal, Angela O’Donoghue, was promoted to lead the much larger City Of Sunderland College. The LSC and the governing body took the opportunity to review the future of BSix. An interim Principal, Joe West, was given the task of canvassing opinion about merger, closure or continuation for the College. The conclusion of the report, the LSC and the governors was that BSix should continue as an independent institution.
A new Principal, Ken Warman, took up post on October 30, 2006.He had previously been Director of the sixth form centre at Tower Hamlets College. During his tenure results have improved by 15-20% at all levels and the centre is flourishing with an excellent reputation and burgeoning student recruitment. In 2005 Ofsted judged the College to be outstanding and awarded it Beacon Status. Prior to that, he had led a similar improvement programme at Uxbridge College, relaunching the academic studies department as the Uxbridge College Academy.
BSix is a rapidly improving college, gaining a national and local reputation for innovation and high standards. The College’s success rate has risen by 8% in one years. In 2009 the College’s average points score per advanced level subject was above the national average. It had the best value-added of any college in London. For the last two years, the College has been in the top 5% of all schools and colleges for value-added. An Ofsted inspection in March 2009 rated leadership and management and capacity to improve as good. A follow-up visit six months later concluded that the College was making “significant progress.”
In 2009 the College was named Representative Organisation of the Year by the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) for its work on student voice. Students are trained to observe lessons, undertake research and make presentations. This project has aroused a lot of interest in the post-16 sector. The Deputy Principal, Philip Elliott, and BSix students have addressed six national conferences about their work. The College also takes an innovative approach to staff development. Under the slogan of “BSix: a university for teachers”, there is an extensive array of development opportunities. These include an MA in Teaching and Learning run by the Institute of Education University of London and available for free to teachers. The College also runs a Coaching Diploma, accredited by Middlesex University, for all staff. In March 2010 the College was awarded the Investors in People kite mark and the report stated that BSix “excels in all areas.”The university for teachers programme was given an AoC Beacon Award in November 2010.
In June 2010 the College was given a London Education Partnership award for “Driving achievement forward: achieving successful outcomes at post-16”.It was also runner-up in the “Building bridges” category for its work with Pembroke College University of Oxford. The scheme, known as Pem-Brooke, allows students to take a year-long academic course. This includes seminars run by Oxford tutors and undergraduates, an Easter school on study skills and culminates in a week-long summer school at Pembroke itself.
In summer 2011 and 2012 the College won two more London Education Partnership Awards. In autumn 2011 it was named ‘Outstanding Provider of the Year’ in the TES FE Awards and in the following year won the ‘Outstanding Innovation’ award for its Raising Aspirations programme of long-term work with universities. This was followed by two Learning & Skills Improvement Service (LSIS) trophies for Civic Participation and Principal of the Year.
The College was inspected by Ofsted in March 2013 and was graded as ‘Good’ for its overall effectiveness. At the same time, it was granted ‘Gold’ status by Investors in People.
These innovations and achievements have generated a lot of interest in the College among young people, parents and the wider education community. As a result, student applications have risen rapidly, tripling in just two years.
- 'Hackney: Education', A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 10: Hackney (1995), pp. 148–65.