According to a report featured by the BBC, the government should increase funding to state sixth forms and FE colleges if it wants more state pupils in selective universities…
Annual fees at private sixth forms are over three times state funding for 16- to 18-year-olds in England, says the Association of Colleges.
“The funding gap is hampering state pupils getting into the best universities,” claims the report.
The research draws on the Independent Schools Council annual census.
This gives a figure of £14,475 for the average annual fee for private sixth forms, not including any boarding charges.
By contrast average spending on state educated 16- to 18-year-olds is £4,500, says the AoC.
The researchers also looked at figures comparing the proportion of pupils from state and private schools progressing to the most selective, top third of universities.
It showed that in 2011, 24% state school pupils went on to these most selective universities, compared with 64% of private school pupils.
The report notes that independent schools educate just 7-8% of sixth formers.
It also points out that in the private sector fees for sixth formers are higher than for younger pupils, whose parents pay on average £13,476, and that private sixth form fees have risen by 22% in the past four years.
The AoC says that in contrast, sixth form funding in the state sector is lower than for younger pupils, with sixth formers attracting almost £1,000 less than 11- to 15-year-olds.
“The reasons why independent schools achieve more success in access to higher education are hotly contested but one issue that attracts relatively little attention is the difference in spending on sixth form education,” says the report…
Is the Association of Colleges drawing attention to an important point here: where fees (and therefore, by assumption, funding) goes up in the sixth form in private schools, it drops in state schools. Is this a factor limiting the likelihood of state school students making it into the best universities? Or do you believe that, given a fixed pot, it makes sense to spend proportionally less per pupil in the sixth form than for those in younger age groups? What is the logic behind this? Please give us your insights and feedback in the comments or via Twitter…