Sixth Form Colleges have a well-established and distinctive identity and mission within the further education (FE) sector. For some Sixth Form Colleges, with their particular focus on high-quality academic courses, converting to academy status and working more closely with schools within a multi academy trust will be a natural development, which can improve value for money through efficiencies and economies of scale, whilst preserving the distinctive character of their offer.
Many Sixth Form Colleges took up the opportunity to convert to academy status as part of the programme of area reviews (2015-2019). The opportunity to apply to convert to academy status has continued to be made available to Sixth Form Colleges beyond the end of the area review programme in March 2019; and with the vision to drive up educational standards across the system and following the Skills and Post-16 Education Act 2022, provision exists for Sixth Form Colleges that are designated as having a religious character to apply to convert to academy status and benefit from having a religious character as a 16 to 19 academy.
A Sixth Form College can become a 16 to 19 academy using the provisions of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992, which enable a Sixth Form College corporation to dissolve and transfer its property, rights, and liabilities to a new or existing multi-academy trust.
The updated DfE guidance can be found here.