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Funding cuts put pressure on colleges and schools, leaders warn

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Cuts to post-16 funding could force small school sixth forms to close, leaving cash-strapped colleges to pick up the pieces, FE leaders have warned.

TES can reveal that organisations representing post-16 institutions and their leaders – including the Association of School and College Leaders, the Association of Colleges and the Sixth Form Colleges' Association (SFCA) – are writing to education secretary Nicky Morgan and chancellor George Osborne to express concern that funding levels are “fundamentally too low”.

Although school budgets have been protected for pupils up to the age of 16, sixth-form provision was cut significantly under the coalition government. 

Icknield Community College in Oxfordshire was forced last month to abandon plans to open a sixth form in September, and a similar picture is emerging across the country as school sixth forms struggle to meet their curriculum obligations with shrinking funding.

David Igoe, chief executive of the SFCA, said: “It’s inevitable that more school sixth forms will close. But perhaps it could be the salvation of sixth-form colleges, if they can survive long enough to rescue these kids and once student numbers begin to grow again.”

Robin Ghurbhurun, chief executive and principal of Richmond upon Thames College in south-west London, said several nearby schools that opened sixth forms last year were already struggling to make ends meet.

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