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Funding alarm

I was alarmed to read that the Department for Education and Employment appears to consider the funding of 16-19 education in schools to be comparable to equivalent provision in the further education sector (TES, December 15).

In Devon the average cost of providing a school sixth-form place in 199495 is Pounds 3,020 - an increase from Pounds 2,949 in 199394. The FE college of which I am principal is funded by the Further Education Funding Council with an average level of funding of Pounds 13.69, equating to a full-time equivalent annual expenditure of Pounds 1,860.

Thus Devon expends some 62.37 per cent more on each sixth-form candidate than South Devon College. Our results exceed national norms and we only receive the full Pounds 1,860 if our students complete the course and are successful after following a full curriculum of three A-level equivalents. A Devon school would receive the Pounds 3,020 average for a candidate who followed only a single A-level, even if heshe failed to pass!

Surely this is not equality. I am aware of the Coopers and Lybrand study data but believe there to be significant variations from the "averaged" data, and also question the validity of costings - for example, does the unit of resource for schools reflect the county council overheads? Also, although comparative figures might exist for three A-level candidates, what is the effect of the issues raised above?

TERENCE R KEEN

Principal and chief executive

South Devon College

Newton Road

Torquay

Devon

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