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?
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

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Duty Manager is required to join one of the ...

Recruitment Genius: Team Leader

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Team Leader is required to join one of the l...

Recruitment Genius: Chef

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Chef is required to join one of the largest ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is required to jo...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor