Anne Milton will acknowledge “widespread concern about the level of funding for 16-19” – but she is expected to hint that no increase is imminent.
The apprenticeships and skills minister is expected to tell the Sixth Form Colleges Association’s (SFCA) annual general meeting today that the government is still operating within the constraints outlined in the 2015 spending review. Securing a high-quality education must be done in a “sustainable and affordable way”, she will tell college leaders.
Her appearance comes a week after it was announced that the base rate of 16-19 funding will stay at £4,000 per student for 16- and 17-year-olds, dropping to £3,300 for those aged 18.
Writing for Tes, SFCA deputy chief executive James Kewin yesterday argued that the current rate leaves schools and colleges “impoverished”.
In her speech today, Ms Milton is expected to say: “I know there is widespread concern about the level of funding for 16-19 and, in particular, for those young people who will continue to follow academic programmes rather than taking the new T levels.
“When we made the commitment in the 2015 spending review to protect the base rate of £4,000 per student per year until at least 2020, that did set spending plans for the next few years and we are still operating within that spending review plan. You would like more, I know.”
Sixth-form colleges have 'key role to play'
However, she will highlight the additional funding for post-16 maths announced in the Budget as “an incentive to grow participation”.
The minister will add: “Yes, we will always return to the question of funding in the longer term and will want to continue to talk to the sector about how to secure the high-quality education all our young people need, but to do this in a sustainable and affordable way. Sixth-form colleges undoubtedly have a key role in this.”
In December, presenting her first Ofsted annual report as chief inspector, Amanda Spielman warned that the FE sector would continue to struggle without additional investment.