Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mind the [narrowing college funding] gap: the impact on school sixth forms

In the media coverage of the cuts there has been surprisingly little coverage of sixth forms. While overall 16-18 funding is set within the constraints of the deficit reduction program, there is the policy expectation that increased participation levels from raising the school leaving age should be funded by efficiency gains. In addition, schools are to be funded at the same (lower) rate as colleges. While there is “transitional protection” limiting losses in any one year, austerity will bite.

What does this mean? The local press around the country is starting to pick up on the implications. Staffordshire County Council is warning schools to prepare for significant challenges and to look at whether their courses will remain viable. This means collaboration and – for small uneconomic school sixth forms – closure. While in Croydon the Council wants schools and colleges to share sixth forms.

It is ironic that in the early noughties the Learning and Skills Council was expected to reshape 16-18 education with unviable school sixth forms being reorganised out of existence. Now the LSC is gone, this might well happen.

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