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Pensions hike to cost colleges £140 per student

Rising pensions bill will divert money away from teaching and student support, warns the Sixth Form Colleges Association

The government’s plan to make colleges and schools contribute more towards the Teacher’s Pension Scheme will cost £140 per sixth form college student

Rising pensions bill will divert money away from teaching and student support, warns the Sixth Form Colleges Association

The government’s plan to make colleges and schools contribute more towards the Teacher’s Pension Scheme will cost £140 per sixth-form college student.

For an average-sized college with 1,800 students, this equates to an extra £250,000 a year.

Last month, Treasury officials issued draft instructions to the government actuary about its plans to reduce the discount rate available for public sector pensions.

A new report by LE London Economics, a specialist policy consultancy company, commissioned by the Sixth Form Colleges Association (SFCA) shows that by 2020/21 the annual cost of these changes will be £140 per student, rising to £150 by 2023-24 in five years’ time.

The Understanding the funding shortfall in sixth form education report also highlights is a £760 shortfall per student between what sixth-form colleges receive in funding and what they need to teach. According to the SCFA, this figure is the minimum needed to for student mental and physical support services, protect subjects at risk of being dropped, such as modern foreign languages, and increasing extra-curricular activities and work experience.

Sixth-form colleges receive £1,380 less per student, in real terms, than they did in 2010 – a decline of 22 per cent.

'Leaves us well off the pace'

Commenting on the report, SFCA chief executive Bill Watkin said sixth form education has experienced deeper funding cuts since 2010 than any other phase of education.

He added: “London Economics has identified that the government will need to increase sixth form funding by £140 per student if the government does not fully fund the proposed increase in employer contributions to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme.

“This is on top of the additional £760 per student we now know is the minimum required to provide sixth-form students with the high-quality education they need. Even that would leave us well off the pace compared to some of our international competitors that are funded to deliver over 25 hours of contact time per week."

“This is why we are launching the Raise the Rate campaign later this month in partnership with a range of other school and college associations to help secure a significant increase in the funding rate for sixth form students in next year’s spending review.”

Maike Halterbeck, an associate director at London Economics and primary author of the report said ongoing cuts to sixth form education have caused a significant reduction in the resources available for front-line teaching activity.

She added: “This has resulted in a narrowing of the curriculum on offer – and a narrowing of the opportunities available to more than 150,000 young people. Significant additional financial resources should be provided to properly fund young people’s education and provide them with an internationally competitive sixth form curriculum.”

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