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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Voices
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
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: Warehouse Operations & Logistics Manager

£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...

Recruitment Genius: GeoDatabase Specialist - Hazard Modelling

£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...

Recruitment Genius: Compressed Air Pipework Installation Engineer

£15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Pallet Network

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea