A-Level class sizes need to be a minimum of 11.7 pupils to make them financially viable, new research shows.
The study, carried out by the Isos Partnership on behalf of the Department for Education, also revealed that there may be a reasonable case for more active national management of the A-Level system, including a reduction in qualifications.
The study focused on 24 A-Level providers, including school sixth forms, sixth form colleges, FE colleges and one university technical college.
It concluded that the average minimum viable A-Level class size across all the sampled providers was 11.7 pupils, though this varied depending on the number of pupils taking qualifications.
Institutions offering fewer A-Level subject choices in relation to the number of pupils were able to maintain larger class sizes, leading researchers to conclude that the breadth of the curriculum on offer is major contributor to determining class size.
In order to reduce the costs of sixth form education, the report suggests schools and colleges develop a practice of scrutinising costs and making decisions on the viability of classes.
The report also suggest the Department for Education consider whether there is a role for “more active management of the A-Level market” and suggests actions such as lowing the number of possible A-Level qualifications and providing a “clear indication of which A-Levels are deemed to be of national importance.”
The report also suggests the Department for Education “may wish to consider” whether there is a role for “more active management of the A-level market”, and suggests actions such as reducing the number of possible A-level qualifications and providing a “clearer indication of which A-levels are deemed to be of national importance”.
Although many schools were said to topping up their post-16 funding, schools said other benefits accrued to the school from offering A-levels, even where class sizes were small.