Sixth form funding rates to remain unchanged in 2019-20

Funding rates for sixth forms will remain unchanged next year, the Education and Skills Funding Agency has confirmed, dashing hopes of a cash boost for schools and colleges.

A letter from Peter Mucklow, director of further education at the agency, published today, said that the national base rates of £4,000 per full time pupil aged 16 to 17 and £3,300 for 18-year-olds “are being maintained for academic year 2019 to 2020, as are the part-time funding rates”.

The announcement is not unexpected, given that the government has already signalled that it won’t shake up 16 to 19 funding until next year’s spending review, but nevertheless comes as a blow to the Sixth Form Colleges Association, which has been fighting for extra cash.

“Although base funding rates have not been increased, government will continue in 2019 to 2020 to make new investment in 16 to 19 education to improve choices for students, quality and skills training,” Mucklow said.

James Kewin, the SFCA’s deputy chief executive, said that confirmation that the funding will stay the same “for the seventh year in a row” was “disappointing but not surprising”.

“Since 2013, costs have rocketed, the government has demanded more of schools and colleges and the needs of students have become increasingly complex,” he said – leading to courses being cut, a reduction in student support services and the disappearance of extra-curricular activities.

“Attempting to defend the indefensible by pointing to small pots of cash attached to technical education or maths is something that colleges and schools find deeply frustrating,” he said.

Funding for 16 and 17-year-olds has been frozen at £4,000 per pupil since 2013, while per-pupil funding for 18-year-olds was cut to £3,300 in 2014.

The Raise the Rate campaign, launched in October and led by the SFCA, called on the government to eventually increase funding for all 16 to 19-year-olds to £4,760 in the next spending review.

A report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies in September found government funding for 16-to 18-year-olds has been cut “much more sharply” than funding for pupils in pre-school, primary, secondary or higher education.