About The College

The College

The College is a specialist Sixth Form College - and is one of the largest and most successful inclusive 16-19 providers of general academic sixth form education in the country. The College’s prime aim is to provide broad, high quality academic and general education programmes to our 16-19 year old full time students. This includes providing students with support, additionality, skills and personal development within their sixth form experience as well as studying pre-university academic courses. The College maintains an excellent reputation both locally and nationally.

The ethos and atmosphere in the College is very positive and vibrant with a strong sense of community. A broadly based educational experience is provided for full time 16-19 year old students, and strong importance is placed on the personal development of each individual student. Operating as a young adult environment, the College provides a bridge between the worlds of school and of higher education or employment. The aim is to give students the skills, experiences, opportunities, qualifications and guidance needed to progress and successfully make the transition to the adult world.  Pastoral and wellbeing support is strong. Parents are involved in supporting our students' education; they regularly receive reports on progress, attend consultation evenings and are contacted when it is felt they need to be involved.

The College received Outstanding at an Ofsted Inspection assessment in 2024 (Ofsted Report published in 2024). Levels of student retention and achievement, including value added, are strong. In 2000 - the College received a Queen’s Anniversary Award for Higher and Further Education and was also awarded Beacon Status in June 2002, one of a small number of colleges nationally to receive these awards and the College holds Platinum level Science Mark and Gold level Arts Mark status.

The College is very secure in terms of finances and levels of student admissions. Currently approximately 3,300 full time students study at the College - approximately 3,250 of whom are following two-year A level programmes. Our students largely live within a 15 mile radius of Colchester but some students travel in excess of 35 miles on a daily basis. Significant 16-18 age cohort demographic growth is in place in the area through to 2034.

There are approximately 200 members of teaching staff and 115 members of support staff supplied by a number of specialist peripatetic staff, sports coaches and volunteers.

The Sixth Form College was first opened in 1987 by Essex County Council. It was subsequently converted, by Central Government, to an ‘Incorporate’ charitable institution, through the 1992 Higher and Further Education Act - and has, therefore, since been directly controlled and funded by Central Government through the DfE/their ‘quango’ national agencies (currently the Education and Skills Funding Agency).

The Curriculum

The College offers academic general education programmes with an extensive range of subjects and courses. Students are able to choose courses from approximately 50 Advanced Level or equivalent – (Applied General Extended Certificate or Level 3) courses. A range of supplementary qualification courses are also available to A level or AFP programme students. Special tuition, preparation and support is provided for students wishing to apply to Oxford and Cambridge and a range of specialist support, extension and supplementary courses/programmes for students seeking entry into professions such as medicine, teaching, finance and journalism are offered. There is a significant and broad programme of wider work related learning and employability opportunities. In addition the Additional Studies Programme offers all students over 80 options and provides enrichment and skills development opportunities and considerable scope for broadening of education. It allows students to develop personal interests and individual skills. There is also a broad and varied extra-curricular activities programme designed to foster skills, develop interests and provide personal development opportunities. Staff will generally have opportunities to become involved in areas outside their predominant subject teaching areas or the area to which they have been appointed.

All students also undertake a pastoral programme which includes general support, wellbeing and safeguarding support, monitoring and target setting, personal development, support for progression and also wider development and educational aspects including health, resilience and citizenship (also see Pastoral Care section).

The Nature of the College and Examination Success

The College has a relatively comprehensive and inclusive intake of A level students with a full spread of abilities in the context of the nature of the post 16 academic programme areas offered. The College has consistently achieved positive value-added A level measures when the student package of results at age 18 are compared with their package of GCSE results at age 16 upon entry. This achievement of positive value-added applies to all cohorts of students including those with outstanding GCSE results. GCSE results at the College, where most entries are on a re-take basis, comfortably exceed the national post 16 pass rates - with very strong GCSE Maths and English re-sit results. 

Each year approximately 1000 of our students successfully gain places to progress to Higher Education - either directly or after a year which may involve specialist arts experiences, or employment based experience or a ‘gap’ year. Very large numbers of students progress on to degrees and professional areas, including Medicine, sciences, Veterinary Science, Architecture, Economics, Management, Engineering, Computing and Law, or progress to other ‘Russell Group’ universities or to other very competitive degree courses. Government published HEESA data suggests our students are consistently very successful when completing degree courses, well above national benchmarked levels, including how well prepared our students are for succeeding as they progress.

Ethos, Pastoral Care, and Tutorial Programme

We strongly believe that much of the ongoing success of the College lies in the strong emphasis on pastoral care and student support and a concern for the particular interests and needs of each individual student. Learning Support facilities and arrangements are also strong – for those who need additional support.  There is a strong commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.

The College has its own positive, inclusive, pleasant and distinctive atmosphere and a clear sense of community. The College operates as am inclusive young adult environment. Our students adopt a mature approach and staff/student relationships are very good. Each student is allocated to a Personal Tutor Group led by a Personal Tutor who has daily meetings with their students - and looks after the general and academic welfare of their students. This work is supported by a Senior Tutor and other specialist staff. Students receive individual advice and support at every stage of their time with us starting from their initial application for entry. A strong Careers team provides continual expert guidance as well as offering excellent advice and support for applications to higher education and employment.

The Tutorial Programme is delivered by the team of approximately 120 Personal Tutors – who are supported by ten Senior Tutors and other specialists. Support includes individual counselling, careers and HE information and the regular review of the student's academic progress. In addition it enables students to consider broader personal, social and world issues, which are also presented by visiting speakers, in wider debates and through a series of materials. Teaching staff have opportunities to be involved in and trained for the Personal Tutor role and a high proportion of full time teaching staff undertake this role.

Student Activities

Many students choose to take part in one or a number of activities from a broad range of Additional Studies and extra-curricular experiences including those in sports, drama, music, dance but also with many other opportunities in vocational, skills, recreational or creative areas. Students are also encouraged to take greater responsibility for themselves and to improve the general life of the College through involvement in the elected College Council, its five main committees (social/arts and culture /charities/sport/environment) and their organised events and activities.

Many students are involved as Tutor Group representatives or as subject level peer mentors, College Ambassadors, Library Champions or involved in leadership experiences with local schools or local community. Many other leadership opportunities are available to our students. There is a high level of extracurricular activity and many organised trips, visits, residential experiences and expeditions. This includes a large programme of international expeditions, residential trips and more local visits.

Accommodation and Facilities

The College is very well located in a very central area of Colchester - and provides students with excellent specialist sixth form accommodation and facilities specifically designed for sixth form studies. It is situated on an historic site - located on top of and around very rich Roman archaeology.

A school formerly occupied the site and in 1986/87 the ‘old building’, which dates from 1912, was refurbished and redesigned for sixth form study. A major new building was also constructed in 1986/87. A further major extension to this building was completed in 1998 to supplement the existing accommodation. In 2004 the College completed construction of a new IT Centre and the substantial ‘Midsite’ building development was opened in spring 2007. This was followed, in summer 2007, by the construction of an outdoor floodlit multi-purpose sports surface.

A significant number of improvements and additions have since taken place including construction of a Language Centre in 2012, and an expansion of the Performing Arts accommodation completed in 2014. Additional leased premises at 58 North Hill have been used since April 2014 for our Learning Support provision, and The Syd Kent Pavilion was constructed in 2015 and has provided additional student study facilities and more social space for students.  The College buildings, facilities and estate are well maintained and there have been programmes to refurbish or enhance several buildings or sets of facilities.  

Senior Staff

College Senior Staff

Job Description

Ian MacNaughton 
The Principal is responsible for the overall leadership and management of the College and directs the major strategic functioning of the College, liaising with the Governing Body
Jo Cadman
Assistant Principal
Responsibilities include Pastoral Support, Child Protection and Student Wellbeing, Director of Safeguarding (DSL), College Counselling, Financial Support, Learning Support,Tutorial Programme, Quality Assurance and Inspection Nominee
Graham Rayner
Assistant Principal
Responsibilities include Curriculum and Assessment, Examinations, Assessments and Reporting, Health and Safety including Prevent, Risk Management, Skills Inspection Nominee, Duke of Edinburgh and Advanced Foundation Programme (Curriculum)
Adrian Frost
Assistant Principal
Senior Tutor for Division 1.  Other responsibilities include Admissions, Schools Liaison and Marketing, the College Website, Public Relations and EPQ
Sarah Prince
Assistant Principal
Senior Tutor for Division 5.  Other responsibilities include Safeguarding and Director of Learning Support
Scott Townshend
Assistant Principal
Senior Tutor for Division 8.  Other responsibilities include Improving Teaching and Learning, Staff Development, Curriculum and Curriculum Resources
Ian Fraser
Assistant Principal
Senior Tutor for Division 10.  Other responsibilities include Data/MIS
Tim Harrison
Senior Curriculum Manager Director of Premises, Estates, and Facilities
Responsibilities include IT Systems and Facilities, Accommodation, Facilities, Resources and Premises
Andrew Hathaway
Senior Tutor
Senior Tutor for Division 2 and Head of Sociology Department
Mark Griffin-Sherwood
Senior Tutor
Senior Tutor for Division 3.  Other responsibilities include Timetabling and Lettings and Rooming
Rebecca McGarrigle 
Senior Tutor
Senior Tutor for Division 4 (AFP students) and Head of History Department
Sarah Palmer
Senior Tutor
Senior Tutor for Division 6
Jo Lawrence
Senior Tutor
Senior Tutor Division 7 and Head of Physical Education Department
Emily Cheffins
Senior Tutor
Senior Tutor for Division 9 and Head of Law Department
Sarah Williams
Senior Manager
Human Resources and Administration Manager
Naomi Goldsmith
Finance Manager
Financial Management Systems and Procedures

Chair and Vice-chairs of the Governing Body

Mike Atherton
Chair of the Governing Body
Kevin Finnigan
Co Vice-Chair
Susan Codling
Co Vice-Chair

Staff Development

We place a great deal of emphasis on staff development and training. Considerable resources are deployed to support staff development and training programmes.

We offer our staff regular opportunities to participate in curriculum development, academic/pastoral initiatives and development of skills, as well as promoting the use of appropriate external training and development. Our ongoing all staff In-Service programme includes opportunities for staff to attend national and local courses and training as well as "in-house" training and opportunities provided by our partnerships (see below) and the opportunity to gain further professional qualifications.

An induction programme is provided for all newly appointed staff which includes a regular programme of discussions, briefings and meetings and it introduces new staff to the general work of the College. For teachers (and Personal Tutors), more specialist induction support is provided at departmental level. The College welcomes and offers particular support to teachers new to the profession and offers the NQT Induction year to those wishing to complete their qualification to include work in schools. Staff development procedures are linked to the College's system of staff development interviews and self-assessment. By this process provide appropriate support, guidance and opportunities for professional development to all members of staff and to meet their particular career needs. A voluntary peer mentoring programme is in place.

The College has been an active partner within the Colchester Teaching Training Consortium (Ofsted – ‘Outstanding’) for the last sixteen years (providing training through full time PGCE and Schools Direct Initial Teaching Training - also with MEd opportunities). The College was successful in leading an application for Teaching School Status on behalf of a large group of local secondary schools which opened in April 2013. As well as supporting the CTTC initial teacher training organisation this also involves continuing provision of training and professional development, leadership and management training and action research projects.

The College is also a member of CENBASE – a peer support group of six specialist Sixth Form Colleges in the East of England, North East London and Midlands. CENBASE work is focussed on staff training and development, support and networking activities/professional dialogue particularly with regard to teaching and learning.

General Information

Secondary Education in North East Essex

In September 1987 the establishment of the Sixth Form College in Colchester formed part of the general reorganisation by Government of post-16 education in the town. The community commitment to education in the locality is strong. At 16+, many pupils from the local 11-16 schools undertake courses at the College or nearby at the Colchester Institute, which is well established as a provider of a broad range of further education, vocational and skills courses as well as some higher education and adult and community education. The College also admits a large number of students from 11-18 schools in Colchester and from schools outside the area and also a number of students previously educated outside the UK or who had ‘boarded’. First priority of admissions is given to students attending designated partner and link schools or who reside in a particular geographical areas. See Admissions Policy.

Due to the large and ongoing age cohort demographic growth in Colchester and surrounding areas, secondary education places have been provided or are planned – and will continue to be needed to at least 2033. This includes further expansion of a number of secondary schools and the opening of new secondary schools in the area. The ‘demographic boom’ has affected the college intake of 16 year olds from 2019 onwards.

The Locality

Colchester is an historic and in the current period of history a very rapidly growing city located in southern East Anglia. Colchester is in the centre of North East Essex and built on the site of the Roman settlement of Camulodunum. Colchester has strong links to London being only 52 miles away (45 minutes by train) and is 15 miles from Ipswich, the county town of Suffolk (over 15% of College students are resident in Suffolk) and less than 25 miles from the Essex county town of Chelmsford. Regular intercity rail and local services operate to and from London, Chelmsford, Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich. The proximity of these cities and large towns offers excellent opportunities for a range of curriculum, social and wider activities.  The surrounding area is an appealing mixture of estuaries, open countryside, long-established village and small town communities, a number of coastal holiday resorts, sailing centre towns and major ports.

The population of Colchester has grown from under 100,000 in the 1970s to approximately 180,000 at present, with significant further population growth in Colchester and surrounding areas underway. Substantial new residential building is taking place in the town and the Colchester area population is projected to increase to approximately 200,000 by the early 2020’s - and very likely to continue to rise thereafter. There continues to be substantial levels of house building activity and the cost of housing and accommodation in the Colchester area remain significantly below the average levels for the South East and below national average levels.  Costs are very low when the relative proximity and accessibility to London is considered - largely because of the significant increases in the supply of housing arising from the construction programmes.

Colchester is the home of the University of Essex, with which the College has excellent links and relationships. The University of Suffolk (Campus) is located on the Ipswich waterfront just 17 miles away – and again, the College has good links. Colchester Institute, a HE and General FE provider, is located just a few hundred yards away. The two colleges work together collaboratively and together provide an excellent tertiary system for the area with the Sixth Form College providing general academic education and Colchester Institute providing vocational, skills and applied educational opportunities for 16 to 18 year olds together with a wider range of provision for those who are 19+.

Levels of unemployment in Colchester are very low in both absolute and relative term and the local economy remains relatively strong. East Anglia in general and the Colchester/Ipswich sub-region in particular, continue to be major economic growth points. In recent years Colchester has been assessed as one of the fastest growing cities or towns in the UK in demographic terms and this demographic growth trend is likely to continue. Employment in London, including the City, is of significant economic importance to the city, although Colchester is a centre in its own right.

In addition to these details, much further information can be found on the College website www.colchsfc.ac.uk including the Prospectus, which can be located within the ‘Documents Section’, along with a range of other relevant materials.