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Sixth-form challenge

Schools are threatening to take legal action against the Learning and Skills Council over the shortfall in funding for sixth forms. Robin Bevan, head of Southend High School for Boys in Essex, said the Learning and Skills Council had been "dishonest" in the way it had told schools about the cuts.

School sixth forms and colleges were informed last week that they will receive lower funding for the next academic year than they had been expecting. Speaking at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers conference in Liverpool, Mr Bevan said that a letter sent by the council at the beginning of March had informed schools that they would be funded for all their students next year.

But just weeks later, Mr Bevan said, he received another letter saying his funding had been cut by Pounds 80,000 - a shortfall of 6 per cent. The LSC had said cuts of 3.7 per cent had been made. Mr Bevan said the letter had been written in jargon, with the actual cuts buried in a footnote on page 13.

"At the first level they have acted incompetently," he said. "I would go as far as to say it was dishonest. They shouldn't have talked to schools - they should have alerted ministers back in January. Ministers then could have issued an alert to schools."

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