Our campaign to increase the per-pupil funding rate for local sixth formers received the backing of Chancellor Sajid Javid this week after a two-year push with Havering Sixth Form College to highlight the importance of post-16 education.
Providers of 16-19 education such as further education (FE) and sixth form colleges will now receive £400 million additional funding to train and teach young people the skills they need for well-paid jobs in the modern economy, the Chancellor announced on Sunday. The boost is the single biggest annual increase for the sector since 2010.
I met Havering Sixth Form’s Head, Paul Wakeling, soon after my election in 2017 to discuss budget pressures at the college on Wingletye Lane, which guarantees a place for every Havering student. We have since been working together to raise funding concerns and the importance of post-16 education with Treasury and Education Ministers and in parliamentary debates. The Institute for Fiscal Studies reported that education funding for 16 to 18 year olds “has seen the biggest squeeze of all stages of education for young people in recent years”.
I supported the Love Our Colleges campaign in May, a drive to ensure that sixth form and FE colleges are adequately funded, and last week was among a cross-party group of MPs calling for the Chancellor to prioritise investment in 16 to 18 education in the forthcoming Spending Review, expected on 4 September.
I am passionate about this agenda, which I see as key not only to solving the UK's productivity problems and reliance on imported labour but in ensuring our education system is producing fulfilled, confident young people who are ready to join the work force and add their ideas and energy to UK businesses. I am glad that the Chancellor has listened to concerns of MPs who have sixth form colleges in their constituencies, and I hope this week’s announcement is just the start of a more intense focus on skills and budgetary support to the post-16 sector, which will be vital to the future strength of our work force and wider economy.
The Chancellor’s announcement is one of several government commitments on education funding made last week that include a £700 million boost for children with special educational needs, real terms budget increases next year for every primary and secondary school, government-funded increases to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme and a rise to £30 000 in teachers’ starting salaries by 2022-23.
I have made it a personal priority to visit all of the 40 schools and colleges in Hornchurch and Upminster to understand the challenges and opportunities facing the local teaching community, and to offer help in connecting school leadership teams to useful people in Westminster and the constituency. One of the concerns consistently raised with me by local teachers has the pressures on school budgets from higher pensions contributions and special needs education (SEND) provision, as well as the speed at which SEND assessments can be undertaken. These concerns are often shared by parents of children with special educational needs. I have fed those concerns into government via meetings with ministers and helped secure an additional £250 million for SEND just before Christmas. We are already seeing the results, including a new 12-place SEN provision at Nelmes Primary School. The additional SEN and pension money announced this week will ensure that we can build on that progress, but I also continue to explore ways in which we can really improve and expand SEN support at pre-school level as well.
NOTES TO EDITORS
- Full details of the post-16 announcement are expected at the Spending Review, due on Wednesday 4 September subject to parliamentary events.
- The Chancellor’s announcement of a £400 million cash boost on 31 August covers the financial year 2020-21. The money announced will be allocated across the 257 colleges in England, as well as other FE providers, including school sixth forms.
- It includes protecting and increasing the base rate with funding worth £190 million to boost access to high quality courses for more than a million 16-19 year olds. Colleges and school sixth forms will also get £120 million to help deliver expensive but crucial subjects such as engineering which lead to higher wages and, ultimately, a more productive economy.
- There will be £35 million more for targeted interventions to support students on level 3 courses (A level equivalent) who failed GCSE Maths and English, so they can re-sit their exams in these critical subjects.
- Colleges and further education providers will receive an extra £25 million to deliver T-levels. The new qualifications start rolling out in September 2020 and will transform vocational education with two-year courses in subjects as varied as accounting, digital production and onsite construction.
- The advanced maths premium, which adds £600 to college budgets for every additional student who takes on A- and AS- level maths, is also funded with £10 million additional funding.
- A new £20 million investment will also help the sector to continue to recruit and retain brilliant teachers and leaders, and provide more support to ensure high-quality teaching of T Levels.
Broader Education Announcements
- The funding package for 5-16 schools includes £2.6 billion for 2020/21, £4.8 billion for 21/22, and £7.1 billion for 22/23 compared to 19/20. This will bring the schools budget to £52.2bn in 22/23.
- This delivers on the Prime Minister’s pledge when entering Downing Street to increase school funding by £4.6bn above inflation, levelling up education funding and giving all young people the same opportunities to succeed – regardless of where they grow up or go to school.
- As part of this, every secondary school will receive a minimum of £5,000 per pupil next year, with every primary school getting a minimum of £4,000 from 2021/22.
- The deal includes £700 million extra for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in 2020/21, so every pupil can access the education that is right for them, and none are held back from reaching their potential.