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Survey shows concerns about sixth form funding

SFCA survey shows 16 to 19 sector under threat and cutting much-needed STEM subjects

Posted by Stephanie Broad | August 13, 2015 | People, policy, politics

A survey by The Sixth Form Colleges Association (SFCA) has shown that seven out of 10 principals say they cannot provide students with a quality education with the money they are set to receive next year. Almost four out of every 10 say it is likely that their college will cease to be a going concern within five years. 

The Funding Impact Survey 2015 was completed by 72 member sixth form colleges and shows the funding crisis has prompted cuts to courses, including important STEM subjects, and enrichment programmes have been dropped. 

James Kewin, Deputy Chief Executive of SFCA said: “This report highlights the damage to students caused by the three funding cuts imposed on Sixth Form Colleges since 2011. The sector cannot survive on starvation rations, and without more investment, Sixth Form Colleges will be unable to provide young people with the high quality education they need to progress to higher education and employment. 

“The Government should conduct an urgent review of funding across all stages of education and end the funding inequalities that exist between Sixth Form Colleges and school/academy sixth forms – particularly the absence of a VAT refund scheme that, according to our report, left the average Sixth Form College with £317,964 less to spend on the front line education of students last year.” 

Commenting on the report Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: 'This survey shows the concern felt by the profession, which continues to strive to provide a good education to students on an ever decreasing budget.

“In the week when we find out A-Level results, this report is a further blow to the government’s desire to increase the take up of STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths), and languages; almost a quarter of colleges in the report have cut STEM subjects from their curriculum offer, with four in ten cutting language A-Levels.

“Whilst school sixth forms have not faced such stringent cuts, even here we see the impact of funding constraints; fewer courses, bigger class sizes and the cutting of extracurricular activities. 

“In order to maintain choice and quality across the education system, the government needs to listen to professionals on the ground and provide the funding needed to secure the range and depth of A-Levels pupils need to succeed.”    

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