Small is `less cost-effective'

2nd February 1996 at 00:00
Research which shows small colleges struggle to teach A-levels cost-effectively has dealt a serious blow to Government hopes of a voucher scheme for all 16 to 19-year-olds in education and training.

A report by Birmingham University's school of education shows that ministers are as far away as ever from creating a "level playing field" in funding to pave the way for learning credits in the 16-19 sector.

It shows the cost of a student taking an A-level course is as much as four times more at smaller colleges. The report contradicts figures produced by the Department for Education and Employment which claimed funding per student was similar in schools and colleges, while sixth-form colleges topped the cost league.

A DFEE spokesman called the report, Cost and Performance of A-Level Provision in the Further Education Sector, an "interesting contribution" to the debate .

Ministers had hoped the DFEE figures would revive the flagging fortunes of post-16 vouchers which were heralded as the way forward in the 1994 Competitiveness White Paper. Ministers pledged then to deal "as a matter of urgency" with disparities in funding.

Labour training spokesman Stephen Byers said: "If vouchers are introduced there will be massive problems for school sixth forms where the unit costs are much higher and the only way they could exist would be by taking money away from the lower year groups to support sixth-form provision."

The Birmingham University report shows that the cost per exam entry varied widely according to the size of a college's A-level provision. The research team studied nine colleges and found the most cost effective were two sixth-form colleges and a tertiary college.

Professor Hywel Thomas, one of the report's authors, said while the findings could not be generalised they showed big differences in costs and pointed to an urgent need for more research.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now