Sixth-form colleges need funding protection, says UNISON

Union speaks out after report shows effect of 33% funding cut on courses and students

“Sixth-form colleges need the same funding protection as schools,” says UNISON in the wake of a report from the Sixth Form College Association highlighting the scale of funding cuts.

The sector has seen funding cuts across England of 33% since 2011, and the report highlights the impact that it is having on the courses and support available to students.

The report found that:

  • 70% of college leaders do not believe that the amount of funding they are likely to receive in 2016 will be enough provide a high-quality education;
  • 72% of colleges have dropped courses as a result of cuts since 2011;
  • 76% of colleges have reduced or removed extracurricular activities for students;
  • 81% of colleges are now teaching students in larger class sizes because of funding cuts.

UNISON national officer Ben Thomas said the report “highlights the disastrous impact of cuts and reflects the experience UNISON members.”

In the last year, the average number of support staff in colleges has fallen by 15%, reflecting the cuts in courses and services available to pupils.

Mr Thomas noted that “staff in sixth form colleges already have the lowest rates of pay in the entire public sector. Last year, the lowest rates of pay had to be increased simply to keep up with the minimum wage.”

He called for sixth-form colleges to have “the same funding protection as schools” and warned the government not to “glibly dismiss the findings of this report”.

“We are genuinely concerned about the future viability of the sector if the government goes ahead with any further cuts,” warned Mr Thomas.