Sixth form cash will be paid on A-level results

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Schools are to be awarded performance pay according to their sixth-form successes as part of the Government's plans for a fundamental reform of post-16 education.

Schools are to be awarded performance pay according to their sixth-form successes as part of the Government's plans for a fundamental reform of post-16 education.

In future, 10 per cent of the funding for A-level courses will be dependent on students passing their exams by gaining at least an E grade under a system of "achievement" payments designed to lever up standards in schools and colleges.

Ministers insisted that they would protect school sixth forms and repeated their guarantee that present levels of income would be maintained if pupil numbers did not fall. But headteachers criticised the scheme, saying schools would be deterred from entering borderline candidates for exams.

A consultation document says the effects of the new system on sixth forms will be "mitigated" by the Government's funding pledge and makes clear that the full effect of payment by results will not be felt by many schools. But it says there is "wide understanding of the potential benefits of this development for successful sixth forms and the challenge it will pose to less successful schools".

Other plans contained in the document include paying extra cash to schools and colleges that recruit students from deprived areas.

The proposals are part of government plans for a new £6bn a year super-quango to regulate sixth forms, colleges and adult education. A technical consultation paper outlines details of the way the new Learning and Skills Council will pay for school sixth forms, further education colleges and work-related training for school leavers and adults.

Under the system, sixth forms, colleges and training companies will be paid for each course they run, rather than the number of students they enrol. Part of the money for each course will be paid up front, but some will be dependent on the student gaining a qualification.

School sixth forms are currently given money for each pupil, regardless of the course they follow, but will come into the new system in 2002. Sixth forms where numbers fall will forgo funding for each student they lose, but the document makes clear there is no guarantee that sixth forms with rising numbers will be given increases in line with their existing spending per pupil.

John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said: "This makes budget planning very difficult. The average pass rates is something over 90 per cent but nevertheless you are bound to opt for a policy of safety. You are less likely to encourage students to take a more challenging option."

Launching the consultation, Malcolm Wicks, the Education minister responsible for lifelong learning, said the proposals would help the Government to create "the most transparent, objective and simple funding system that we can for all post-16 education and training".

Comments