Sixth Forms Dropping Subjects Amid Increasing Costs
The majority of sixth form colleges have been forced to drop subjects as their real term costs continue to rise despite the government protecting the base rate of funding.
The results of a survey published by the Sixth Form Colleges Association (SFCA) has revealed that sixth forms have been forced to make cost-saving measures to meet the rising costs of things like utilities and loans.
This includes dropping subjects which receive low enrolments and reducing or removing enrichment activities including music, drama and sport.
The survey has revealed the following:
- Two thirds of sixth form colleges have dropped courses as a result of funding pressures
- A third have dropped courses in modern foreign languages
- More than half have reduced or removed extra-curricular activities available to students
- Two thirds do not believe the amount of funding they will receive next year will be sufficient to provide the support needed for students who are economically or educationally disadvantaged
- One in nine are concerned about the financial health of their college
- Increases to employer pension and national insurance contributions will cost sixth forms an additional £189,932 per annum
- This phase of education receives less funding than both pre-16 and higher education
- Funding pressures make it difficult for sixth forms to deliver the baccalaureate model of education which includes support activities and work experience
- The inability for sixth forms to claim VAT refunds leave them with an average of £385,914 less this year to spend on frontline education
- Students in sixth form colleges outperform their peers in school and academy sixth form colleges, at a lower cost to the taxpayer
The survey suggests that these cuts point towards a “triple narrowing” of the sixth form experience, combining a reduction in the overall number of subjects, a narrowing in the range of subjects available, and cuts to extra-curricular activities.
The SFCA calls on the government to address the under investment in sixth form colleges as a matter of urgency and to conduct a review of funding to ensure it is linked to realistic costs.
It argues that unless these issues are addressed then sixth form education will become a part-time experience for students.
You can read the survey results in full here.