Chancellor urged to give funding lifeline to sixth forms and colleges

02 October 2017

Seven organisations representing sixth forms, colleges and students have written to Chancellor Philip Hammond calling for urgent action over the severe underfunding of 16-19 education.

Their letter, written as part of the Support Our Sixth-formers campaign, says that without further investment, there will be more cuts to courses, class sizes will continue to increase, and school sixth forms in rural areas will simply disappear.

They urge the Chancellor in his Budget on 22 November to support an increase of £200 per student. This measure would cost an estimated £244 million per year to implement, more than half of which can be found from the underspend in the existing 16-19 budget.

The letter can be read here.

The seven organisations are: the National Union of Students (NUS); Freedom and Autonomy for Schools – National Association (FASNA); the National Governance Association (NGA), the Grammar School Heads’ Association (GSHA); the Sixth Form Colleges Association (SFCA); the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL); and the Association of Colleges (AoC);

Emily Chapman, NUS Vice President (Further Education) said: “Sixth forms and colleges give young people opportunities to change their life. Yet this vital part of the education system is consistently ignored and chronically underfunded. It’s about time the Government recognised the transformative power of further education and adequately invested in our young people.

Emma Knights, Chief Executive of the National Governance Association (NGA), said: “The NGA is committed to matching funding with expectations across the education sector. The 2017 Annual Governance survey report, released tomorrow, shows  that over a quarter of respondents with sixth forms have: increased class-sizes, reduced the number of sixth-form teaching staff and post-16 qualifications on offer. This is why the NGA endorses the Support Our Sixth Formers campaign and the modest rise of £200 per sixth-form student.

GSHA Chief Executive Jim Skinner said: “There is an urgent need for further investment to ensure sixth form students have access to the full range of courses, including in STEM subjects and languages. The increase we are requesting is modest, but is essential if the needs of our students and the country are to be met.”

Bill Watkin, Chief Executive of the Sixth Form Colleges Association, said: “This modest increase in funding is affordable and will help to ensure that every sixth form student in England receives the sort of high quality, rounded educational experience they deserve. It will also help to boost social mobility, improve the career choices that students make, and ensure that young people possess the skills required to flourish in the workplace.

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “The investment we are calling for is very small in terms of national spending. But it will make a huge difference to sixth forms, colleges and students. It is a lifeline for sixth forms at risk of closure and will save more courses from being scrapped. It is surely a small price to pay to protect this crucial phase of education.”

David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, said: “Our young people are being short-changed compared with their counterparts in other countries and compared with previous generations. The hours of teaching and support, the choice they have and the enrichment they are offered have all reduced as funding cuts have bitten. This cannot continue if we are to secure the future of our nation.