Wednesday 6th February 2019
I am passionate about education and I believe that everyone has the right to a first-class education: to learn, grow, develop and, ultimately, to be transformed by this experience.
Education does come at a cost. The government funds education for our children until they reach 18 years old, but with years of austerity and budget cuts, first class education is becoming increasingly difficult to provide.
Recent media coverage of funding pressures has highlighted the challenges faced by schools; however, it is important to note that colleges across the country have experienced even deeper funding cuts. In their 2018 Annual Report on Education Spending in England, the Institute for Fiscal Studies confirmed ‘16-18 education has been the big loser from education spending changes over the last 25 years.’
Since 2010, funding for our students has been cut twice and since 2013, funding has been frozen at £4,000 per year, per student. In reality, this may not seem like a crisis, but running costs have increased sharply since the initial cuts in 2010 and this has left us with less money to spend on front line education.
So, what do I mean by the term front line education? Well, this is the provision of a wide academic curriculum, enriching experiences outside of the classroom, student services which are able to meet the diverse and complex needs of the student body, the ability to retain breadth of our curriculum offer and reasonable class sizes.
At King Ed’s we have dealt with our finances very prudently. As yet, we have not had to take extreme measures. However, for some sixth form colleges funding pressures have led to the removal of courses, especially in smaller subjects such as modern foreign languages: 67% of colleges have had to reduce the student services they provide and 77% of colleges have has to increase class sizes to make their ongoing existence sustainable.
This shows that the funding situation we currently have is unsustainable, not just now, but also for the future generations of students who will study here. The current funding levels will impact every sixth former in the country, whether they attend a school sixth form or a college. It will affect King Ed’s.
So, where does that leave us? Well, we need your support. The Sixth Form Colleges Association (SFCA), in conjunction with other partners, are leading a campaign called Raise the Rate (#raisetherate), which is aimed at securing two commitments from the Government in the 2019 spending review. First, to raise the national funding rate for 16 to 18 year old students to at least £4,760 per year (from the current level of £4,000 per year for 16 and 17 year olds, and £3,300 for 18 year olds). Secondly, to raise the rate in line with inflation each year.
There is a campaign petition which I encourage you to sign, using this link. I also invite you to write to your local MP, as we need to ensure we secure their support for the Raise the Rate campaign. A full list of MPs can be found here. I have written a template letter for MPs which you are able to download from the link below. If you use any social media then I would also ask you to share the campaign using the hashtag #raisetherate. More information and resources are available on the campaign website RaisetheRate.org.uk
I believe we all need to speak up to demand change for the future of our children. I thank you all for your continued support. Our students are our future.