Government warned of funding squeeze for sixth form colleges

27 Oct 16

Funding pressures may force sixth form colleges to offer only a narrow and part time education, the Sixth Form Colleges Association has warned.

Its annual funding impact survey found almost all college leaders were either ‘concerned’ or ‘extremely concerned’ about their institution’s financial health.

The 90 member colleges educate some 160,000 students aged 16-19 and their students account for more than 20% of A levels sat in England. The survey drew responses from 80 colleges.

According to the SFCA, the combination of funding cuts and cost increases has opened a significant gap between available resources and the cost of delivering a curriculum of sufficient quality.

Responses showed that 66% of colleges had dropped courses as a result, with modern language courses being the main casualties.

Additional activities like music, drama, sport and languages had been ended or reduced in 58% of colleges.

The SFCA said funding for sixth formers was 20% lower than for 11-16 year olds and 47% lower than the average university tuition fee.

Chief executive Bill Watkin said: “This report should act as a wake-up call to the government.

“A review of sixth form funding is urgently required to ensure it is linked to the realistic costs of delivering a rounded, high quality curriculum. Failure to do this risks turning sixth form education into a narrow and part time experience. That would be bad for students, bad for society and bad for the economy”.

Malcolm Trobe, interim general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the funding situation for both college and school six forms was “dire”.

He added: “Sixth forms and colleges have no alternative other than to cut courses and scale back enrichment activities. We are already hearing of school sixth forms being closed and unless funding is increased several further closures will follow.”

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