A new campaign has been launched urging the Government to increase funding for sixth form education with Monday’s Budget from Chancellor Philip Hammond being targeted.
A letter organised by 12 associations representing college and school staff and also students has been sent to the Chancellor and it also launches their ‘Raise the Rate’ campaign.
The aim is to increase funding for 16-18-year-old students which has been frozen at £4,000 per student per year.
That’s been the case since 2013 and it’s been cut twice since 2010 – though in 2014 the rate for 18-year-olds was reduced to just £3,300.
The aim of the Raise the Rate campaign is to boost funding to £4,760 per student, which would be a rise of 14%. For 18-year-old students, this would be a rise of 44%.
Government funding has been ‘reduced more sharply’
The campaigners point to a recent report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies which showed that government funding for 16-18-year-olds has been ‘reduced more sharply’ than that for pupils in secondary, primary or higher education.
Indeed, Nick Gibb, the schools’ minister, said in January last year that resources were ‘tight’ for sixth forms.
Now those behind the Raise the Rate campaign have written to Philip Hammond claiming that a combination of cost increases and funding cuts have left colleges and schools stretched when “needs of young people are becoming increasingly complex”.
The campaigners say that among the issues are growing numbers of students reporting mental health problems.
They also point to research commissioned by the Sixth Form Colleges Association from consultants London Economics which highlights that funding needs to rise by at least £760 per student in order to provide a high quality of education. The campaign wants this figure to rise in-line with inflation every year.
Significant rise in national funding for 16-18 year olds
The letter to Mr Hammond states: “Only a significant rise in national funding for 16-18-year-olds will make it possible to meet objectives for a highly educated, socially mobile workforce for a strong post-Brexit economy.”
They say the cash injection is needed to boost student support services and help finance minority subjects including languages which face being dropped and also fund extra-curricular activities, university visits and work experience opportunities.
However, any major funding decision is likely to be delayed until the Spending Review is complete next year and then any recommendations will not take effect until 2020/21.
Chancellor should introduce a modest increase in his Budget
The letter also states that the Chancellor should introduce a modest increase in his Budget of at least £200 per student to the funding rate in Monday’s budget.
They say this will help provide much-needed financial stability and ensure that colleges and schools can deliver the high-class education that young people deserve.