Sixth form colleges, school sixth forms, and general FE colleges are in the process of
absorbing and interpreting the Chancellor’s autumn spending review. It will take some
time for the fine detail to emerge, and the devil in such reviews is often in the detail.
The relevant headline issues are the ability for sixth form colleges to apply to become
academies, and the promise for the base funding rate for 16-19 year olds to stay the
same until 2020.
The cuts already made to the post-16 education budget before the review have been
deep and long. Most colleges have long since made all the efficiency gains possible; any
future cuts will have to impinge on the offer to students.
Maple Group colleges once again dominated the A level league tables, such as that
recently published by the Sunday Times, by whichever measure the tables are
formulated. We are confident that those within our ‘family’ of colleges are much better
placed than most to meet the challenges facing post-16 education. But challenges there
will be. A promise to keep the funding rate fixed until 2020 is welcome in one sense;
there had been fears that it would be cut. However, of course, fixing a rate for some 5
years with no rise for inflation, is actually an announcement of a real terms cut.
We await the detail on conditions relating to the possibility for sixth form colleges to
become academies, but we welcome the Chancellor’s explicit reference to this being a
way to stop SFCs having to pay VAT: a benefit schools already have.
25 November 2015