School sixth-forms face closure due to government funding cuts

 

School sixth-forms are facing closure because of government funding cuts, headteachers warned today.

In addition, others will have to reduce the number of A-level courses on offer to students - with key subjects such as modern foreign languages and further maths - not so popular with pupils - particularly at risk.

The dilemma, revealed at the Association of School and College Leaders' conference in London, emerges as the Government attempts to put funding for school sixth-forms on an equal footing with further education colleges.

However, headteachers warned that the new formula was reducing funding for schools - with some losing as much as £333,000.

Ian Bauckham, vice-president of ASCL and headteacher of Bennett Memorial Diocesan school in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, said the cut to his funding meant the equivalent of six or seven teachers' jobs.  "We are losing £350,000 over three years," he said.  "that's very roughly six or seven teachers out of a teaching staff of 90."

ASCL is warning that smaller sixth-forms are most at risk with those with fewer than 200 pupils in danger of becoming unviable within the next two years.

Those serving rural and far flung communities are likely to suffer the most - with students having to travel further distances to find school or college places.

At the very least, predicts ASCL, sixth-forms will have no choice but to drop courses which do not recruit large numbers of students - with further maths, languages and economics all likely to suffer.

Dame Joan McVittie, past president of ASCL and headteacher of Woodside school in Tottenham, north London, said: "Whilst we would like to open a sixth-form - especially with the raising of the (education) participation age, I would come in at the bottom for funding - even though many of our students would prefer to study in an environment they know if they stayed."

Currently, about half of the 2,000 school sixth-forms have fewer than 200 students - with about 300 having less than 100.

A survey of headteachers in school sixth-forms, sixth-form colleges and further education colleges revealed 79 per cent said they would have to reduce the number of courses on offer to students next year while a quarter said there would be significant reductions in activities like sport, drama, music and debating.  Fifty per cent said that cuts would have a significant impact on class sizes.

David Grigg, headteacher of Lord Lawson of Beamish Academy in Durham - which has around 300 students in the sixth-form, said: "At a time when the Government says it wishes to encourage students to stay on and continue their learning beyond 16, they are removing the funding necessary to provide students with a wide range of courses.

"These budget restrictions will hit smaller, rural schools which are already being put at risk by the imposed changes of funding post-16.  Effective, geographically necessary sixth-forms are being put at risk of closures by these pressures."

Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary of ASCL, said the Government was trying to cushion the impact of funding reductions over the next three years - but schools were still facing cuts.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said there was a "clear need" to reform funding for 16 to 19-year-olds "so that every young person is able to undertake high quality study which will lead to better education and employment opportunities".

"One of the principal barriers to this has been the current funding system based on funding for qualifications - which has acted as a perverse incentive for schools to enter students for easier qualifications," she added.

"Funding schools and colleges per student instead will free them up to deliver demanding and innovative courses which meet the individual needs of all young people."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Masterchef cooks Tony Rodd (left), Emma Spitzer (second left) and
Simon Wood (right) posing with judges Gregg Wallace (centre) and John Torode (second right), as the three will be seen cooking their hearts out in the hopes of winning the show.
TVReview: Tired Geography teacher John Torode and shaved Scotch egg Gregg Wallace crown the champion
Voices
Ukip leader Nigel Farage in Tiny Tim’s tea shop while canvassing in Rochester this week
voices
Life and Style
life
News
The Grand Palais in Paris will be transformed into a 4,000-seat cinema, with 44 double beds at the front
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Windo...

Guru Careers: Product Training Specialist / Software Trainer

£25 - 32,500K (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Produ...

Recruitment Genius: Unqualified NVQ Assessors - Health, Social Care & Management

£16000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Advisor - OTE £30,000

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Major medical journal Lancet under attack for 'extremist hate propaganda' over its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Lancet accused of 'anti-Israel hate propaganda' over coverage of Gaza conflict

Threat to free speech as publishers of renowned medical journal are accused of inciting hatred and violence
General Election 2015: Tories and Lib Dems throw their star names west to grab votes

All noisy on the Lib Dems' western front

The party has deployed its big guns in Cornwall to save its seats there. Simon Usborne heads to the heart of the battle
How Etsy became a crafty little earner: The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?

How Etsy became a crafty little earner

The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?
Guy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle King Arthur - one of our most versatile heroes

King Arthur is inspiring Guy Ritchie

Raluca Radulescu explains why his many permutations - from folk hero to chick-lit hunk - never cease to fascinate
Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations for the man or woman on the street?

Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations?

The Apple Watch has apparently sold millions even before its launch tomorrow
Don't fear the artichoke: it's a good cook's staple, with more choice than you'd think

Don't fear the artichoke

Artichokes are scary - they've got spikes and hairy bits, and British cooks tend to give them a wide berth. But they're an essential and delicious part of Italian cuisine
11 best men's socks

11 best men's socks

Make a statement with your accessories, starting from the bottom up
Paul Scholes column: Eden Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo

Paul Scholes column

Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo
Frank Warren: Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal

Frank Warren's Ringside

Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal
London Marathon 2015: Kenya's brothers in arms Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto ready to take on world

Kenya's brothers in arms take on world

Last year Wilson Kipsang had his marathon record taken off him by training partner and friend Dennis Kimetto. They talk about facing off in the London Marathon
Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad but it's not because I refuse to fly

Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad

Green leader prefers to stay clear of her 'painful' family memories but is more open about 'utterly unreasonable' personal attacks
Syria conflict: Khorasan return with a fresh influx of fighters awaiting the order to start 'shooting the birds'

Khorasan is back in Syria

America said these al-Qaeda militants were bombed out of the country last year - but Kim Sengupta hears a different story
General Election 2015: Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North for Ukip?

On the campaign trail with Ukip

Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North?
Four rival Robin Hood movies get Hollywood go-head - and Friar Tuck will become a superhero

Expect a rush on men's tights

Studios line up four Robin Hoods productions
Peter Kay's Car Share: BBC show is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade

In the driving seat: Peter Kay

Car Share is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade. The programme's co-creator Paul Coleman reveals the challenges of getting the show on the road