College and school leaders fear sixth form education in Lancashire is heading into trouble because of the amount of money available to meet their needs
Cuts to courses, rising class sizes and closures are all on the cards if funding to sixth forms is not increased.
That’s the stark warning sent to the Government as school and college budgets feel the pinch. Besides funding cuts, the issue is being exacerbated by the increase in the school leaving age - which means more young people are either staying on in education or training. Colleges across Lancashire joined the rest of the country for a day of action as part of the ongoing campaign in support of the Sixth Form Colleges Association and Association of Colleges.
The main concerns of colleges in England are that funding for 16-18 education has fallen in real or actual terms for seven years and there is now a 21 per cent drop in education funding at age 16-18 compared to 11-16.
And, on average, sixth formers in England are funded for an average of only 15 hours’ tuition a week, which is much less than most other nations in the G20 group.
The campaign is recommending an annual increase of £200 per student, which they say would help schools and colleges to preserve the range of support activities required to meet the individual needs of young people and help to improve social mobility.
In a joint statement the principals of both Cardinal Newman College and Runshaw College, Nick Burnham and Simon Partington said: “The two colleges, both outstanding providers, are jointly asking the Chancellor to increase funding in line with the campaign’s modest recommendation so that all of our students aged 16-18 can continue to flourish and fulfil their potential.”
Blackpool Sixth Form principal, Jill Gray added:“We would make excellent use of any further funding .”
Wes Johnson (pictured) from Lancaster and Morecambe College added: “Colleges play a crucial role in social mobility, enabling young people and adults to raise their aspiration and life chances to meet their full potential, celebrating diversity and removing traditional barriers to education.”
Mr Johnson added: “The emerging implications of Brexit further reinforce the crucial role of colleges in developing the skilled workforce of the future, delivering work ready students who meet the needs of our current and future local businesses and employers.
“All colleges are asking for is a fair funding formula to sustain their essential role in the communities they serve.”
• Yesterday’s budget announced an extra £600 for each new pupil taking maths or further maths at A-level at secondary schools and sixth form colleges.