College chiefs’ fund plea

Principals, including Louise Tipping (front row far right), protest over funding levels
Principals, including Louise Tipping (front row far right), protest over funding levels

The principals of Wigan’s sixth form colleges have urged Chancellor Philip Hammond to boost funding for all sixth form students - not just those studying maths.

Under plans unveiled in last week’s Budget, schools and colleges will receive an extra £600 per student – but only for each extra student that decides to study A-level maths, further maths or a core maths qualification.

The plans were panned by the Institute for Fiscal Studies as unnecessarily complicated and “unlikely to increase the numbers of pupils taking maths”.

The leaders of the North West’s 21 colleges agree, and support the IFS conclusion that Mr Hammond should have instead chosen to increase the basic rate of funding for all sixth formers.

At a meeting at Winstanley College the principals were photographed with banners backing the Support Our Sixth Form campaign urging Government to hike funding by £200 per student.

Winstanley principal Louise Tipping said: “Winstanley is one of the highest achieving colleges in England and that’s because we support every one of our students equally. Colleges and schools need fair funding to support all students, it’s as simple as that. That’s why Winstanley is supporting this campaign.”

A campaign survey showed 50 per cent of schools and colleges have dropped courses in foreign languages due to funding pressures and 67 per cent reduced student support services or extra-curricular activities, with significant cuts to mental health support, employability skills and careers advice.

Nick Burnham, chair of the Sixth Form Colleges Association and its North West chair Kathryn Podmore, said in a joint statement: “Schools and colleges should receive sufficient funding to provide all young people with the high quality, internationally competitive, education they deserve - irrespective of the subjects they choose to study.

“Limiting additional funding to maths sends out the unhelpful message that equally demanding subjects are not as valuable. Student demand should drive subject choice at A-level, not financial incentives from government. This policy is no substitute for funding all sixth form students fairly and sufficiently and that is what we urge the government to do.”