The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has released a report looking at comparisons of spending per pupil across different stages of education.
The report shows that funding per student in Further Education is no higher in real terms than it was 30 years ago. This contrasts with other forms of education which have seen substantial rises, for example funding per student in Higher Education is 50% higher than in 1990. I know music and fashion are heavily influenced by the 1990's at the moment, but for FE the song and mantra for Tony Blair: ‘Things can only get better’, certainly passed FE by!
What is the sector response to the report:
David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC), said: “The Office for Fiscal Studies (IFS) report highlights why we have called for fair funding for colleges. It shows that education for 16 to 18-year-olds has been the biggest loser in funding over the last 25 years and colleges support 744,000 of them. It is not acceptable that this section of the education budget is the only one that is unprotected and has therefore borne the brunt of funding cuts.
“The funding system for education must be fairer. In addition to dedicating more funding into education overall, the Government must review how that money is divided across all age groups. It is disappointing that the IFS did not focus on the decimating cuts to adult education budgets, which are also a major barrier to supporting adults who need new and often higher level skills to fill the jobs available.
“The biggest losers, of course, are 16 to 18-year-olds who miss out on the breadth, depth and support that they deserve as they make the daunting journey from childhood into adulthood. As the Government’s Industrial Strategy highlighted, they’re only funded for 17 hours a week, compared with 30 in Shanghai. Under those circumstances it is difficult to give them the education and training they need and our economy needs to compete with other nations.
“Colleges are on the front-line of this under-investment, and yet are critical to delivering the solutions. With the likely skills gaps created by Brexit we simply cannot afford to have this part of education underfunded.”
Stephen Evans, Chief Executive of Learning and Work Institute commented:
“Further Education is an engine of both prosperity and social mobility. We have to invest in Further Education to secure future economic growth and a country that works for everyone.
“Learning and Work Institute is calling on the Chancellor to invest in Further Education in next week's Budget, increasing funding per student so that the quality of education and contact hours matches the best in the world.”
Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: “Sixth form and further education (FE) colleges in particular have been ignored by governments for decades, with FE being consistently treated as a poor relation in funding terms. FE is already facing unsettling upheaval because of the funding crisis and cannot continue to be side-lined, given that it is the sector which provides the most training for the current skills gap.
“Schools have been subsidising their sixth form pupils up to now, from their funding for younger pupils, to enable them to provide a broad curriculum and wide range of A-levels, but they won’t be able to continue doing this. Many schools will be forced to cut A-level subjects which will reduce the options for young people at sixth form and potentially in their future careers.
“The rise in educational performance in our schools, and the achievements of children and young people, are being threatened by the real terms cuts in funding that the Government is imposing on our schools.”
James Kewin, Deputy Chief Executive, Sixth Form Colleges Association comments: "This report provides further evidence of the chronic underinvestment in 16-18 education. SFCA’s recent funding impact survey found that two thirds (66%) of Sixth Form Colleges have already dropped courses as a result of funding cuts and cost increases and the majority (58%) have reduced or removed the extra-curricular activities available to students. Research commissioned by SFCA from the Institute of Education has shown that sixth formers in England are now funded to receive half the tuition time and support than sixth formers in other leading education systems such as Shanghai and Singapore. But our more fundamental concern is the disconnect between the funding made available to educate students and the actual cost of delivery. That is why we are calling for the Department for Education to move away from funding sixth formers based on an arbitrary funding rate, and conduct a review of funding to ensure it is linked to the actual cost of delivering a rounded, high quality curriculum."
Mark Dawe, Chief Executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) comments:
"Actually the position could be worse than IFS describes for 16-18 apprenticeships, because the funding changes announced in the autumn are not sufficient to rectify the previous changes which are leading employers to conclude that from now on they may as well wait until young people are aged at least 18 before they take them on. Young people who want to carry on learning from 16 must be given the opportunity to do so in a work based environment rather than being forced back into the classroom. Apprenticeship numbers for this age group held up remarkably well during the recession, so it would foolish to remove this first rung from the ladder of opportunity that ministers want to put in place".
What do you think? Here is the link to the full IFS report and press release