The Principals of the 21 Sixth Form Colleges in the North West of England have urged Chancellor Philip Hammond to boost funding for all sixth form students, not just those studying maths.
Under plans unveiled in last week’s Budget, schools and colleges will receive an extra £600 per student – but only for each additional student that decides to study A level Maths, Further Maths or a Core Maths qualification. The plans have been criticised by the Institute for Fiscal Studies as unnecessarily complicated and “unlikely to increase the numbers of pupils taking maths”.
The leaders of the North West’s 21 Sixth Form Colleges agree, and also support the IFS’s conclusion that the Chancellor should have instead taken the opportunity to increase the basic rate of funding for all sixth form students. At a meeting at Winstanley College in Wigan on Friday, the Principals were photographed (see attached) with a series of banners backing the Support Our Sixth-form campaign that is urging the government to increase funding for every sixth form student by £200.
A recent survey by the campaign showed that 50% of schools and colleges have dropped courses in modern foreign languages as a result of funding pressures and 67% have reduced student support services or extra-curricular activities – with significant cuts to mental health support, employability skills and careers advice.
Nick Burnham, Chair of the Sixth Form Colleges Association (and Principal of Cardinal Newman College in Preston) and Kathryn Podmore, Chair of the North West region of the Sixth Form Colleges Association (and CEO of the Wirral Academy Trust) said in a joint statement:
“The Chancellor was right to increase funding for sixth form students in last week’s Budget, but wrong to focus this increase so narrowly on the number of additional students studying maths. Schools and colleges should receive sufficient funding to provide all young people with the high quality, internationally competitive, education they deserve – irrespective of the subjects they choose to study.
“Limiting the additional funding to maths sends out the unhelpful message that equally demanding subjects are not as valuable. Student demand should drive subject choice at A level, not financial incentives from government. It is unlikely that the funding will lead to a significant increase in the number of students taking maths, and £600 per additional student is unlikely to be sufficient to pay for qualified maths staff to deliver the courses. This policy is no substitute for funding all sixth form students fairly and sufficiently and that is what we urge the government to do.”