School sixth-forms are facing closure because of government funding cuts, headteachers warned today. In addition, others will have to reduce the number of A-level courses on offer to students – with key subjects such as modern foreign languages and further maths – not so popular with pupils – particularly at risk. This is from the Independent…
The dilemma, revealed at the Association of School and College Leaders’ conference in London, emerges as the Government attempts to put funding for school sixth-forms on an equal footing with further education colleges.
However, headteachers warned that the new formula was reducing funding for schools – with some losing as much as £333,000.
Ian Bauckham, vice-president of ASCL and headteacher of Bennett Memorial Diocesan school in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, said the cut to his funding meant the equivalent of six or seven teachers’ jobs. “We are losing £350,000 over three years,” he said. “that’s very roughly six or seven teachers out of a teaching staff of 90.”
ASCL is warning that smaller sixth-forms are most at risk with those with fewer than 200 pupils in danger of becoming unviable within the next two years.
Those serving rural and far flung communities are likely to suffer the most – with students having to travel further distances to find school or college places.
At the very least, predicts ASCL, sixth-forms will have no choice but to drop courses which do not recruit large numbers of students – with further maths, languages and economics all likely to suffer.
Dame Joan McVittie, past president of ASCL and headteacher of Woodside school in Tottenham, north London, said: “Whilst we would like to open a sixth-form – especially with the raising of the (education) participation age, I would come in at the bottom for funding – even though many of our students would prefer to study in an environment they know if they stayed.”
Currently, about half of the 2,000 school sixth-forms have fewer than 200 students – with about 300 having less than 100.
A survey of headteachers in school sixth-forms, sixth-form colleges and further education colleges revealed 79 per cent said they would have to reduce the number of courses on offer to students next year while a quarter said there would be significant reductions in activities like sport, drama, music and debating. Fifty per cent said that cuts would have a significant impact on class sizes.
If you know or are involved with a sixth form facing closure or the prospect of reducing courses, please share your story with Schools Improvement Net here