Autumn Statement and Spending Review 2015: sixth-form colleges will be allowed to become academies

Student study group Print publication


The Chancellor George Osborne has announced that sixth-form colleges will be able to convert to academy status or join an existing academy trust.

In February this year, a cross-party group of MPs led by the chairman of the Commons Education Select Committee, Conservative MP Graham Stuart, wrote to the Secretary of State urging her to bring the VAT treatment of sixth-form colleges into line with that of schools and academies.

Sixth-form colleges will now be able to enjoy the numerous benefits that academy status brings which includes the ability to reclaim VAT from the Government. In a response to an e-petition presented to Parliament earlier this year the Department for Education stated that a sixth-form college spends on average approximately £335,000 a year in VAT payments.

The Sixth Form Colleges’ Association deputy chief executive James Kewin welcomed the changes, stating that: “We are delighted that sixth-form colleges will have the opportunity to become academies. This will help to move the sector from the margins of education policy to the mainstream”.

The news was also greeted with approval by Martin Doel, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges who said that: “sixth-form colleges will welcome the news that they can choose whether to become an academy, enabling them to reclaim VAT as schools have done so for many years. We have long campaigned for colleges to be able to reclaim VAT. It is a positive step in the right direction”.

The Chancellor’s announcement is an acknowledgement of the importance of sixth-form colleges in the wider education system and a reminder of the Government’s commitment to the academies programme.

We will be keeping you up-to-date with these reforms using our network of contacts across the further education sector.

To discuss how you might be able to take advantage of these changes please get in touch with one of the team who will be happy to speak with you.