Sixth-form closures ‘inevitable’ as funding cuts bite, experts warn

Scores of small school sixth forms face closure as a result of the government decision to lower the rate of funding for post-16 education, experts claim.

The warning comes as organisations representing post-16 institutions – including the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), the Association of Colleges and the Independent Academies Association – write to education secretary Nicky Morgan and chancellor George Osborne to express concern that funding levels are “fundamentally too low”.

Although school budgets have been protected for pupils up to the age of 16, sixth-form provision was cut significantly under the coalition government. Icknield Community College in Oxfordshire was forced last month to abandon plans to open a sixth form in September.

A similar picture is emerging across the country as school sixth forms struggle to meet their curriculum obligations with shrinking funding.

Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary of the ASCL, said that more money was needed to avoid further closures.

“The likelihood is that we’ll see a number of smaller sixth forms close because of financial pressures,” he said. “There is a strong possibility that those considering opening a sixth form will be very carefully considering what their position is once the reality of the funding situation hits them.”

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