Gossip and facts about funding

I want to clarify the FE Focus article "Lack of funds for teenage students"

(November 25). The article makes numerous claims about "under-funding" and asserts that: "The shortfall in funding varies across the country, with some areas short of cash by 10.9 per cent, while others have a 5 per cent surplus." This is to misunderstand the position.

Some of our local learning and skills council areas have planned growth in student numbers this year of up to 10.9 per cent, while others will have reductions of up to 7.5 per cent. The important point is that these figures cannot be interpreted as meaning that some areas have budget shortfalls or surpluses, as you state.

In preparing providers' allocations for 200506, the LSC took into account unplanned youth activity in 200405 and reasonable forecast growth in 200506. While there might be the odd exception to this position, the vast majority of FE providers should have received all the funding required for their young learners. The actual average funding increase for young learners in 200506 was more than 10 per cent - well in excess of the increase in funding rates.

As I acknowledged at the Association of Colleges' annual conference in Birmingham last month, we are hearing from talk in the sector that there is more unfunded growth around than we have seen in previous years. However, I also stated quite clearly that we do not have enough hard data at the moment to draw any conclusions and no one as yet can determine what the true overall net position might be.

We have said that we will examine any evidence of unplanned growth when the first Individualised Learner Record (ILR) returns become available for the current academic year from next month onwards.

Mark Haysom

Chief executive

Learning and Skills Council

Cheylesmore House, Quinton Road Coventry

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