Anthony Morris Chairman of CIFE (Council for
Independent Education), the association of sixth form colleges,
outlines the role of CIFE Colleges
The 24 CIFE colleges come in all shapes and sizes and range from
residential colleges sited in many acres to day colleges in the suburbs
of our largest cities. The colleges vary in size from below 50 to over
400 students and all have very high teacher to pupil ratios. We are all
dedicated to attaining the best academic success and personal
development for each and every one of our students. We believe teaching
programmes designed for the individual coupled with teaching by
experienced enthusiastic graduate teachers, many of whom examine in
their subjects, is the only way that education will successfully move
forward into the future.
CIFE is an association of independent colleges
able to take the best practices from both the maintained and
independent sectors and then implement these for the benefit of both
our students and our teachers. The concentration on teaching, in terms
of quality and quantity, is a fundamental ‘best practice’ which enables
us to gain exceptional results at A level, often for students whose
GCSE grades are only average. Increasingly CIFE colleges also offer a
full range of GCSE courses. It is this commitment to enthusiastic
teaching that inspires our students, is our hallmark, and enables our
students to gain both the grades and the self-confidence necessary to
take up places on prestigious courses at the very best UK universities.
colleges offer lively and happy environments for learning. Formal class
teaching is extended with parallel tutorials that give the individual
contact with the tutor that is so necessary for complete understanding
of a particular topic or where homework can be fully discussed. By
using these and other methods, CIFE colleges are becoming more and more
sought-after for their unique one-year A level courses. It is these
courses that are most popular with many applicants from the big cities
applying because of the success gained by their friends. Yes, the
student grapevine is our best form of advertising and at the last count
there were over 6000 students studying at CIFE colleges nationwide.
all CIFE colleges are very different in style and approach we are all
united in responding to the needs of the students who apply to our
colleges. Hence some colleges have developed into A level re-sit
specialists for students who wish to enter competitive degree courses
such as medicine, dentistry and law. These colleges have gained
incredible successes with both grade improvements and numbers of A
grades which are quite astonishing. Every year CIFE students are among
the top candidates to achieve success in the British Maths Olympiad and
our Richard Smart Prize list records those students scoring the top
results in A level examinations, especially for science subjects.
Whether you are a natural high flyer destined for such national
successes or an average student requiring support and good teaching to
bring out the best in you then a CIFE college will provide a sensible
and secure base for you.
All CIFE colleges are bound to the
Association by both the Code of Conduct and the Constitution. CIFE
colleges must undergo a rigorous three-day inspection, every five
years, by the British Accreditation Council (BAC) or by the ISI. BAC
was founded in 1980, principally by British Council initiatives with
the government of the time. BAC have their own inspectors the majority
of whom are experienced school or further education inspectors. Each
college is re-inspected on a mid five-year cycle basis and can only
publish examination statistics after BAC accreditation has been granted.
numbers of young people are deciding to move school at the age of 16,
not because they are unhappy with their school, but because they see
the need for a change at this stage. They may well feel more
comfortable in a more adult environment where there is the expectation
of good manners and an enthusiastic attitude, and where they can, to
some extent, be treated as equals by their teachers. They may wish to
study subjects that their schools do not offer or they may wish to have
a greater concentration on their academic studies. They certainly would
be given a greater academic choice and then taught in small groups
focused on the examination curriculum. Extracurricular activities tend
to be centred around useful work experience more than the games field.
That is not to say sporting, social and creative activities do not have
a place at CIFE colleges for they most certainly do.
the right college for you needs careful research. When you have made
your shortlist then ensure that you visit each college. You should have
your interview with the principal on a working day, for then you can
look around the college. If you are impressed remember that many day
colleges will allow you to ‘sit in on classes’. This is an invaluable
way of meeting students and staff and will enable you to make a more
informed choice. Although all CIFE colleges represent the vanguard of
modern sixth form education they all have their own individual
character. So make the right choice for you and you should enjoy the
superb preparation for higher education that many thousands have
enjoyed before you.
To obtain a copy of the CIFE Members Guide or to get advice to help you make the right choice, contact:
Dr Norma Ball, Secretary of CIFE, on the CIFE Help Line – tel: +44 (0) 20 8767 8666,
or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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