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Colleges lose out on credit

Colleges are getting less cash and less credit than schools for delivering the national skills strategy in 14-19 education, according to a paper presented to a select committee of MPs this week.

An "indefensible" funding gap of 10 per cent exists between colleges and schools for the same work in meeting government targets in the 16-18 age group, a report says. And schools are given all the credit for improvements made by 14 to 16-year-olds who study part of the week at colleges.

These claims are made in a submission by the Association of Colleges to the education and skills select committee, delivered two weeks before Mike Tomlinson's working group on 14-19 reform is due to be published.

The AoC paper says: "Although colleges have a key role in meeting targets for the 16-18 age group, they do so with less funding than school sixth forms. The AoC estimates that the total funding gap between the two sectors is 10 per cent. This is indefensible if curriculum change helps create a more cohesive 14-19 sector."

The funding gaps, it adds, "perpetuates a situation in which a disproportionate amount of government money is being targeted on institutions serving better qualified and better off young people".

John Brennan, AoC chief executive, and Mark Haysom, chief executive of the Learning and Skills Council, both gave oral evidence to the select committee on the 14-19 strategy on Tuesday.

Dr Brennan said that colleges are providing courses for 100,000 pupils in the 14-16 sector. This is in addition to the 700,000 students aged 16-19 already in colleges.

But his report says that colleges have embarked on 14-16 programmes "with insufficient funding and no guarantee of continuity". It says the collaborative work is expensive and not enough money is available for programmes.

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