Funding for 16-19 Education and Sixth Form Colleges

EduFacts

  • Funding for 16-19 year olds fell by 14 per cent in real terms between 2010-11 and 2014-15.1 The Government announced on 25 November 2015 that 16-19 funding will be protected in cash terms between 2016 and 2020.  Taking inflation into account, however, this is still likely to mean a real terms cut of some 8 per cent.2
  • The view of the Institute for Fiscal Studies is that, “16–18 education spending has clearly been the relative loser from education spending changes over the last 25 years. It experienced larger cuts in the 1990s than other sectors, smaller increases during the 2000s and is currently experiencing the largest cuts. This long-term squeeze in resources is a major challenge for the sector as a whole.”3
  • The Sixth Form Colleges’ Association has calculated that sixth form colleges have already lost £100 million of funding since 2010.4  The cumulative impact of funding cuts meant by October 2016 that 66 per cent of sixth form colleges had to drop courses and 84 per cent of them had increased class sizes.5 
  • The Government is carrying out a programme of “area-based reviews” of post-16 provision. The aims of the programme include moving towards “fewer, often larger, more resilient and efficient providers.” The obvious threat is that this will increase the pressure on FE and sixth form colleges towards merger, resulting in fewer sixth form colleges and greater distances for students to travel.6
  • The funding rate for students aged 16 and 17 education in 2017-18 has again been frozen at £4,000 in cash terms, while the funding rate for students who are already aged 18 has been frozen at £3,300 since it was cut by 17.5 per cent in 2014.7
  • Sixth form colleges have to pay VAT on goods and services – costing them £30 million a year - while schools and academies are reimbursed for these costs.  It is arguable that this disparity is a deliberate attempt to ‘encourage’ sixth form colleges to become academies,
  • School and academy sixth form funding has been cut by even more than sixth form colleges in line with the Government’s decision to remove the school/sixth form college funding gap by levelling down provision in schools.8  As a result, funding per student for school sixth forms fell by around 18 percent in real terms between 2010-11 and 2015-16.9
  • Phasing out the protection funding for the new funding formula for 16-19 education from September 2016 might reduce funding per student even more.10
  • Over 150,000 young people are enrolled at one of the 93 sixth form colleges, with a third drawn from the least advantaged areas. Funding inequalities are likely to impact on learners from more disadvantaged backgrounds in particular, despite sixth form colleges’ success in sending more young people to higher education than independent schools.11
  • On top of these cuts, young people aged 16-19 have had other entitlements removed. Education Maintenance Allowances for students from low-income households that totalled £560 million were replaced in 2011 with a Bursary Fund of £180 million.12
  • Additionally, entitlement funding for activities such as tutorials, enrichment activities and additional courses was reduced from 114 hours per year to 30 hours in 2011.  Sixth form colleges saw an overall reduction in funding of around 10 per cent due to this cut.13

1 Luke Sibieta (2015), Schools Spending: IFS Briefing Note BN 168.  Economic and Social Research Council, page 4.  Available at: http://www.ifs.org.uk/uploads/publications/bns/BN168.pdf.  David Igoe et al (2015), Costing the Sixth Form Curriculum, London; Sixth Form Colleges Association, page 9.  Available at: http://www.sixthformcolleges.org/sites/default/files/SFCA%20Costing%20The%20Sixth%20Form%20Curriculum%28web%20version%29.pdf

2TES, 25 November 2015.  Available at:
https://www.tes.com/news/further-education/breaking-views/opinion-fe-sector-shouldnt-celebrate-spending-review-too-soon.

3 Chris Belfield, Claire Crawford, Luke Sibieta (2017), Long-Run Comparisons of Spending per Pupil across Different Stages of Education.  Nuffield Foundation and Economic and Social Research Council, page 21.  Available at: http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/sites/default/files/files/R126.pdf

4 The Independent, 3 February 2014.  Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/exclusive-a-level-courses-closed-as-michael-gove-cuts-100m-from-sixth-form-colleges-9102755.html.

5 James Kewin and Laura Janowski (2016), SFCA Funding Impact Survey Report 2016, London; Sixth Form Colleges Association, page 1.  Available at: http://www.sixthformcolleges.org/sites/default/files/191016%20SFCA%20Funding%20Impact%20Survey%20FINAL.pdf.

6 James Kewin and Laura Janowski (2015), SFCA Funding Impact Survey Report 2015, London; Sixth Form Colleges Association, page 9.  Available at: http://www.sixthformcolleges.org/sites/default/files/110815%20SFCA%20Funding%20Impact%20Survey%20FINAL_0.pdf.

7 Peter Mucklow (2016), Funding for academic year 2017 to 2018 for students aged 16 to 19 and students aged 16 to 25 with an education, health and care plan, Coventry; Education Funding Agency, page 1.  Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/580182/Education__Funding_Agency_letter_to_post_16_institutions__about_funding_for_the_academic_year_2017_to_2018.pdf

8 Simon Judge (2013), Response to the Education Select Committee Questions on the Department for Education Main Estimate 2013-14, London; Department for Education, page 2.  Available at: http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-committees/Education/DFEResponsetoMainEstimateCleared.pdf

9 Chris Belfield, Claire Crawford, Luke Sibieta (2017), ibid, page 21. 

10 Peter Mucklow (2016), Funding for academic year 2016 to 2017 for students aged 16 to 19 and students aged 16 to 25 with an education, health and care plan, Coventry; Education Funding Agency, page 2.  Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/492064/PM_EFA_post_16_funding_letter_January_2016.pdf

11 James Kewin (2012), Sixth Form Colleges and Funding: Summary for Stakeholders v2, London; Sixth Form Colleges Forum, page 2.  Available at: http://www.sixthformcolleges.org/sites/default/files/12_12%20sixth%20form%20college%20funding%20summary%20final.pdf.  James Kewin and Laura Janowski (2015), ibid, pages 8-9

12 Press Release (2011), £180 Million New Bursary Scheme to help the Most Vulnerable 16- to 19-year-olds, London; Department for Education.  Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/180-million-new-bursary-scheme-to-help-the-most-vulnerable-16-to-19-year-olds

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