Middle classes told to give up school funding

Britain's middle classes must give up their privileged access to the lion's share of education funding to help the poor and unqualified, even at the cost of cuts to A-level classes and closures of school sixth forms, a high-profile government report will say next week.

A committee of leading educationalists and industrialists, led by Helena Kennedy QC, will on Budget Day call on Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, to break the Government's two-year public spending freeze to pump more money into widening access to education. Meanwhile, the committee will say, a wholesale redistribution of cash is needed in favour of helping those with few or no qualifications.

The report, "Learning Works", to be launched by Ms Kennedy together with David Blunkett, the Education and Employment Secretary, will seek to put further education colleges - often regarded as the Cinderellas of the education world - at the forefront of a crusade to bring an army of people back into learning.

Colleges should be key to the Government's regeneration policies, Ms Kennedy will say, boosting Britain's skills base and helping education fill the vacuum at the heart of communities once occupied by the Church.

However, in an interview with The Independent, Ms Kennedy admitted a price would have to be paid for the redistribution of funds. The committee's recommendation of equity of funding of A-level age students in schools and colleges might well see the closure of small school sixth forms, which at present attract more cash per student than colleges, she said. There was no room for sentimentality and parents would have to get over any reluctance to send children to colleges at 16. Within colleges, A-level classes full of high-fliers who could manage with less support might find themselves facing cuts to fund students with greater needs.

More controversial still were leaked early suggestions from the committee that university budgets could be raided to boost further education, in another example of the elite being asked to make sacrifices to help the underprivileged. However, it emerged yesterday that, under pressure from vice-chancellors, Ms Kennedy was persuaded at the eleventh hour to add a clause in her report reassuring the university sector that further education had no designs on its coffers. Instead colleges sought a levelling-up of funding by persuading the Government to give more to post-16 education overall, the new paragraph says.

Despite the amendment, Ms Kennedy made clear her impatience with universities "Rushing round like frightened rabbits" at the thought of losing money. Higher education would still be expected to contribute to her committee's proposed "Learning Regeneration Fund" aimed at bringing educational opportunities to deprived areas, she said.

As well as a move towards more accreditable funding in school sixth forms, colleges and universities, the Kennedy committee also wants to see reform of student financial support, which at present awards grants to full-time university students but none to adult further education students or those studying at university part-time.

The committee proposes a universal lifetime entitlement to education up to level three - A-level standard or its equivalent.

Many of the committee's proposals, including moves to dedicate Lottery funding to the launch of a "Learning Into the New Millennium Initiative" will be likely to find widespread support in further education and among ministers. Ms Kennedy suggest colleges will have to venture off campus to venues such as betting shops, pubs or snooker halls, to teach reluctant learners on their home ground.

The GCSE examination may have to be scrapped to stop young people dropping out of school, Nick Tate, the Government's chief adviser on the curriculum, has suggested. In two speeches this week Dr Tate pointed out that Britain is one of the few countries that retain two sets of external examinations, one at 16 (GCSE) and one at 18.(A-level). Instead of GCSE students might accumulate credits, including vocational qualifications, on their way to a school-leaving exam at 18.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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 General

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist / Physio / Osteopath

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for o...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Sales Executive - Contract Hire

£35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leader provides c...

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most