Funding fears for sixth forms

Steve Baragwanath .
Steve Baragwanath .
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SIXTH form funding cuts could see up to £200,000 slashed from some school budgets, prompting fears for the future of post-16 education in South Holland.

Headteachers say they are keeping a close eye on new Government policy, which has recently changed the way sixth forms are funded to bring them into line with other colleges.

They fear the changes could force them to cut subjects from their timetables, merge with other sixth forms or even close.

Steve Baragwanath, of University Academy Holbeach, which currently has around 240 students studying about 20 subjects in its sixth form, said: “I am watching it very carefully and with concern.”

The funding changes mean sixth forms will receive set funding per pupil.

Overall the number of 16-18 year olds in the county is expected to drop over the next few years, leading to concerns that those schools which see the biggest drop in pupil numbers will be worst affected by the changes, particularly after a period of “transitional protection” which ends in 2014.

Lincolnshire County Council has refused to reveal which schools it expects to be most badly affected, but has said that four schools in the county will be more than £100,000 worse off in this school year (2011/2012), two will be more than £200,000 worse off, and a further eight could lose between £7,000 and £80,000.

Mr Baragwanath said: “It is all very uncertain at the moment and I have had no concrete assurances about the level of funding we will receive.

“But changing to a ‘pay per pupil’ funding system could have a significant impact on what we do because some courses are more expensive than others.

“I am obviously concerned because it is a significant proportion of any school’s funding and if it does reduce it could impact on our ability to deliver the range of courses.”

Lincolnshire County Council has vowed to work with schools to enable them to continue offering the best service to sixth form students.

Keith Batty, pricipal adviser for 11-19-year-olds, said: “The county council works with sixth forms on an ongoing basis to help them plan a way forward and to encourage them to collaborate so that minority subjects can continue.”