Please don't tinker

5th June 2009 at 01:00

Mick Fletcher makes a superficially attractive proposal for simplifying the 14-19 funding system ("Now we need integrated 14-19 funding", May 8) but rather misses the point.

He assumes that a 14-19 system will be needed in 2013 to deal with the diploma. The diploma will undoubtedly attract more students over the next few years but will only ever cover part of the age group. Many young people will continue to take GCSEs, A-levels and other qualifications.

The current 16-19 funding system makes an approximate link between funding and costs, which helps to ensure that institutions continue to offer broad programmes and high-cost subjects. Running the system on a national basis avoids a postcode lottery for the 300,000 young people who cross local authority boundaries to study. The inclusion of success rates and disadvantage elements in the calculations creates the right sorts of financial incentives to institutions.

Sure, the system creates challenges for some schools and councils, but with all the challenges facing the education system in the next five years, the last thing we need is unnecessary tinkering with funding systems.

Julian Gravatt, Assistant chief executive and director of research and development, Association of Colleges.

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