Funding cuts are damaging educational opportunities for learners in sixth-form colleges and schools, new research by the Sixth Form Colleges’ Association (SFCA) has revealed.
According to the study, which surveyed the leaders of 341 schools and sixth-form colleges in England, half of sixth-form colleges and schools have been forced to drop courses in modern foreign languages as a result of funding pressures, while one third have had to cancel science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) courses.
Some 67 per cent of sixth-form colleges and schools have also had to reduce support services – including mental health support, careers advice and extracurricular activities – while two-thirds (66 per cent) have had to move from a four-subject to a three-subject offer at A level.
The findings come after leaders from across the FE sector signed an open letter to chancellor Philip Hammond today urging the government to provide more funding for the sector ahead of the Autumn Budget.
In August, a survey by the Association of Colleges (AoC), in partnership with Tes, revealed that a wide range of A-level subjects has been axed, including German, accounting, dance and music.
'Students are not getting a fair deal'
Bill Watkin, chief executive of the SFCA, said: “Our survey shows that sixth form students are not getting a fair deal – these young people deserve to have their education adequately funded. The government’s planned investment in post-16 technical education will do nothing for the vast majority of students who are pursuing academic courses – we urge the chancellor to boost funding for all sixth-form students in this month’s budget.”
AoC chief executive David Hughes said: “The results highlight what we know: our young people are in danger of getting short-changed compared with their counterparts in other countries and compared with previous generations. This is not just a funding issue, it’s a moral issue and should deeply concern every one of us. Young people deserve the right investment to support their ambitions and abilities.”
'The poorest relation'
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “Without any rhyme or reason, 16-19 education is the poorest relation in an underfunded education system. And this is at a point when students are taking courses on which rest university places and employment. Our young people deserve better than this – and we appeal to the chancellor to act urgently.”
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We recognise that some providers are not always able to offer the full range of subjects and small class sizes can make it difficult to deliver less popular subjects in some locations. It is up to individual schools and colleges to decide which courses to offer to meet the needs of their students, and as part of their curriculum planning they are free to work with other providers to combine resources and maximise their offers.”