Sixth form funding cuts warning

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Sixth form students face the prospect of a part-time education from next year as a result of government funding cuts, says a new report.

While sixth form colleges provided 18 hours of direct teaching and support to their students in 2012/13 they are planning to reduce this to 15 hours by 2016/17.

“This is between seven to 10 hours less than required and is not a choice – it is a consequence of the current 16 to 19 funding settlement,” said David Igoe, chief executive of the Sixth Form Colleges Association (SFCA), which produced the report.

Costing the Sixth Form Curriculum warns that sixth formers in England risk being left behind by their international peers as a result of a “low hours and short duration” sixth form model. It claims that from 2016, youngsters at sixth form colleges in England will receive only half as much teaching as students get in places like Shanghai and Singapore.

The report points out that “around 25-plus hours of direct teaching and support is common in high-performing systems” and recommends that between 22 and 25 hours are needed to deliver a worthwhile curriculum.

The study says that by 2016/17, sixth form colleges in England will require extra funding to support an additional seven to 10 hours of direct teaching if they are to deliver a worthwhile curriculum. This will cost at least £1,000 more per student than the current planned settlement.

The report states: “Sixth form colleges have, for some time, been perplexed. Despite being highly efficient and outstanding providers of high-quality Level 3 academic/vocational education, outperforming all other non-selective publicly funded institutions, they have suffered the most from the recent spate of funding reductions and curriculum reform.

“College governors, principals and leaders have serious concerns that, despite their very best efforts, they will struggle to continue to provide the rounded, worthwhile education that will allow their students to compete successfully and on equal terms with students from independent and better resourced institutions.”

The study also looks at the content of the 16 to 19 curriculum and advises that study programmes should be based on a Baccalaureate approach. This should value “not just qualifications but also tutorial and support activities and a co-curriculum including work experience to develop the soft skills essential to higher study and employability”.

Costing the Sixth Form Curriculum can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/1Cm6oHI

   


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