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Hills Road Sixth Form College (HRSFC) is a state funded co-educational sixth form college in Cambridgemarker, Englandmarker for academically able students. It provides full-time AS and A-level courses for approximately 1,800 students (mostly between the ages of 16 and 18) from the surrounding area. There are also around 4,000 part-time students in the adult education programme, mainly evening classes. Its name comes from Hills Road, the road on which the college is situated.


Hills Road Sixth Form College was established in September 1974 on the site of the former Cambridgeshire High School for Boysmarker. The college has expanded in recent years, with the addition of the Hills Road Sports and Tennis Centre in 2001; the Colin Greenhalgh building, which houses most "classroom" subjects such as English, Modern Languages and History; a new science building housing the Physics and Chemistry departments in 2004 (designed by Frank Shaw Associates Ltd): the space previously occupied by these departments became general teaching areas; finally in 2005 the Margaret Ingram Guidance Centre provided extra office space for staff.

Collegiate board and admissions

Hills Road is one of the five Cambridge Further Education institutions in the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough collegiate board. The state-maintained secondary schools in the city and Village Colleges in the surrounding area are the main feeder schools to the centre, although students come from all over the county, some from even further afield due to its strong reputation. Hills Road is over-subscribed and more selective than other centres in the area which offer A-Levels, typically requiring candidates to achieve a B (sometimes A) grade in a related GCSE to study an A-Level course, whereas most other centres require only a C grade. As a result, Hills Road tends to attract more able students.

The vast majority of students at Hills Road have attended a comprehensive feeder school in the local area, such as Netherhall, Parkside, St Bedes or Colleridge. However, due to its reputation, the college also attracts a minority of its students from out of area establishments and some public schools within Cambridge.

Educational reforms in 1992 removed responsbility for FE colleges and Sixth Form Colleges from Local Education Authorities. The college is now funded by the Learning and Skills Council, and run as a Corporation. The college co-operates with the County Council in the allocation of places to students.

Results, reputation and destinations

The College has finished in the top three hundred sixth form colleges, with an average of 404 A-level points per student (which is equivalent to four grade Bs) in 2005. In 2006, the college had an A-Level pass rate of 98%, 48.8% of which were at grade A. It is currently fifth on the Sunday Times list of the best Further Education centres in the country, having previously been number one.

About 90% of Hills Road students go onto higher education following their time at the college, for 40% this is after a gap year. About 5% of students enter full-time employment. Over the last five years, half of students have gone onto attend one of just fifteen universities, namely Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Durham, East Anglia, Leeds, Loughborough, Manchester, Oxford, Nottingham, Sheffield, Sussex, Southampton, UCL and Warwick. In 2006, fifty-two Hills Road students gained places at Oxbridge; this was a larger number than at any other state school and represents one in every sixteen students.

Despite its academic reputation, Hills Road does not rank so highly on league tables when success is measured by 'value added', meaning students tend to achieve what is expected of them, rather than improving. However, as with higher examination results at Hills Road this is consistent with more able students typically preferring to apply to Hills Road as the level of support is much lower than at other centres.

The academic success of students at Hills Road means its retention rate is well above the national average: students tend to finish the courses they start.

Hills Road's reputation for academic success came from the 1974 reorganisation of Cambridgeshire schools to a comprehensive system. The village colleges and their city equivalents, the community colleges, were all reduced to secondary modern schools and transformed into comprehensive schools. There were no sixth forms in secondary moderns and the new comprehensive schools were similarly restricted to the 11-16 age range. There had previously been four state schools of grammar school status in Cambridge: the Girls Grammar, the Boys Grammar, and the High Schools for Boys and Girls. The first became Parkside Community Collegemarker, the second merged with the Netherhall School to become an 11-19 school, and the third and fourth became Hills Road and Long Roadmarker sixth form colleges. As can be seen, the girls who had formerly been at the Girls Grammar needed to move to a new school for their sixth form studies - and it is not surprising that many chose to join the boys at Hills Road rather than the girls at Long Road. That preference laid the foundations for Hills Road's academic success, and hence popularity, that has persisted ever since.

Hills Road is known to have a largely pressurised teaching style, expecting students to achieve the maximum grades that are available. Such pressure supposedly results in social restriction and some students (especially those from out of catchment schools) find settling into such an environment difficult. However, it is found that the student do quickly adapt and find the results of such an exam-driven sixth form to be fruitful.

At its most recent OFSTED, teaching and learning was judged to be 'Outstanding' the top grade, in all eleven departments that were inspected. Leadership and management was also reported as 'Outstanding'. It became the fist centre in the country to receive 'designated outstanding' status, meaning it is no longer subject to routine inspections, but is liable to be 'spot checked' at any time to ensure standards are kept high.

Notable alumni

Cambridgeshire High School for Boys


  • Colin Hill (1974–1984)
  • Colin Greenhalgh CBE DL (1984–2002)
  • Rob Wilkinson (2002–2008)
  • Linda Sinclair (2008 to present)


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