Analysis of change in the English further education sector since its incorporation in 1993 has assumed a similarity between different types of college and asserted that government policy has led to a sector-wide change in culture. The research reported in this article suggests that sixth form colleges are dissimilar to general further education colleges in how their culture has changed. Unlike many general further education colleges, they haveretained a professional culture and avoided the extremes of managerialism. The reasons for the retention of this culture are complex and reflect issues of stability or instability in the market, student mix, different attributions of leadership and the choices of leaders. Their experience refutes any simple belief that government policy impels cultural change or style of leadership. Rather, both leadership and culture are shown to be complex constructs of context and choice
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