One in five sixth form colleges have launched formal proceedings to convert to academy status, Lord John Nash has revealed.
The academies minister made the announcement at the sixth form college association’s conference in London this week.
Separate studies suggest that around 70 per cent of sixth form colleges had already registered an interest in becoming an academy.
Speaking to delegates, Lord Nash said: “As academies minister I am really pleased with the way in which sixth form colleges have responded to the opportunity of converting to an academy.
“Over half of you have expressed an interest in converting and a fifth have already started a formal process to make the change.
“This will, I’m sure, bring great benefits to you, the schools you work with and the education system as a whole.”
The minister’s announcement means that approximately 18 of the country’s 93 sixth form colleges are moving towards academisation, be it a standalone academy or as a multi-academy trust (MAT).
Academisation would also mean VAT savings of an average £317,000 per school.
Also present during Wednesday’s conference, Sir Dan Moynihan, chief executive of the Harris Federation which runs 41 academies, urged all sixth form colleges to convert.
He said academy conversion would give them the opportunity to make a “system impact” and reduce costs during a time of dwindling budgets.
“Clearly there is the advantage of avoiding VAT, but there is much more than that,” said Sir Moynihan.
“My contention is academisation will allow you to continue what you do now, but in a way that could further strengthen your colleges by broadening your reach, strengthening your finances and capacity and allowing you to have a system impact.”