Sixth form colleges will be able to convert to academy status and join multi-academy trusts, as part of new changes.
A number of sixth forms across the country have been struggling with budget decreases and have had problems associated with VAT payments, which they have to pay despite the fact that most schools avoid the charge.
During the Autumn Statement, Chancellor George Osborne confirmed that sixth forms will be given the chance to change their legal status, however, so they can avoid paying unnecessary tax and also manage their budgets more effectively.
James Kewin, deputy chief executive of The Sixth Form Colleges Association, which has campaigned to end the unfair tax treatment of its members, has said the measure will help to “move the sector from the margins of education policy to the mainstream”.
He also stated that a number of sixth form colleges were interested in academy status, as it would “allow them to foster closer relationships with schools”.
Sixth form colleges that are looking to become stand-alone academies will have to put forward a very strong case, whereas those wishing to join a larger trust would be encouraged to become academies, under the proposed measure.
Mr Osborne confirmed last month that the per-pupil base rate of £4,000 for 16 and 17-year-olds and £3,300 for 18-year-olds will be protected in cash terms over the course of the Parliament.
Those sixth forms that are seeking to join a trust are being advised that they should get professional help, to ensure a smooth transition process.