Sixth form colleges in England are under “serious threats” as a result of Governments funding cuts, according to a new report.
Many Sixth Form College leaders fear for the future of their students and their institutions – 70 per cent do not believe the amount of funding they are likely to receive in 2016 will be sufficient to provide students with a high quality education, and 83 per cent do not believe it will enable them to provide the support required by students that are educationally or economically disadvantaged.
The poll asked each college to report the cumulative impact of the funding cuts introduced since 2011. Of the 72 colleges that responded, 52 said they have removed or reduced enrichment activities as a result of the funding cuts.
Commenting on the findings, James Kewin, Deputy Chief Executive 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.”
Over a third of Sixth Form Colleges (39 per cent) have dropped courses in modern foreign languages – with the biggest casualties have been A levels in German, Spanish and French. Almost a quarter (24 per cent) had cut STEM courses (science, technology, engineering and maths).
This follows the government’s review of post-16 education last month by the departments for education and Business, Innovation & Skills, which will result in colleges either closing or merging, which is “critical to our strategy of raising productivity and economic growth.”
The review also said it would address the significant financial pressures on institutions including a declining 16-19 population and the need to maintain very tight fiscal discipline in order to tackle the deficit.
“A major reform of post-16 education and training institutions is now necessary…We will need to move towards fewer, often larger, more resilient and efficient providers,” said the announcement.