Boost capital funding
The number of 16 to 18 year olds in England will increase sharply over the next eight years. We estimate that the number of 16 to 18 year olds participating in full time education will rise from 1,127,000 in 2019/20 to 1,387,585 in 2028/29 - an increase of 260,585. In some parts of the country it will make sense to establish new institutions to meet this demographic increase. But as a general principle, we believe that expanding existing, high performing institutions, offers better value for money (it is a lot cheaper to do) at lower risk (they already have a proven track record) than opening brand new ones.
The absence of a dedicated capital fund for sixth form providers means that expansion is simply not an option for many institutions. Sixth form colleges and academies must bid from a single Condition Improvement Fund for all phases of education that prioritises capital improvement over expansion. The small minority of expansion projects that are approved typically focus on acute overcrowding rather than future place planning.
The creation of a dedicated capital expansion fund for high performing sixth form providers should be a major government priority, and could be modelled on the existing expansion fund for grammar schools (but with non-selective institutions eligible to apply).
A separate capital maintenance fund for sixth form providers would also help to address the ongoing challenges many institutions have with their estate. One practical commitment the government could make is to extend eligibility for school condition allocations (currently limited to MATs with 5 or more academies and at least 3,000 pupils) to sixth form colleges and 16 to 19 academies, either individually or as part of a consortium. This would provide funding for institutions to deploy strategically across their estate to address priority maintenance needs.
We need the support of school and college leaders, governors, students, parents, teachers and support staff to make the campaign a success. There are lots of ways to get involved, for example:
- Write to your local MP to secure their support for the campaign (a full list of MPs is here)
- Invite local MPs to your school or college
- School and college leaders can write to parents to secure their support for the campaign
A template letter to MPs for all four of our campaigns can be found here – please feel free to adapt the text and add specific examples from your own college or school.
Campaign in the news
Conservatives announce manifesto pledge of £3bn over 5 years for a ‘new National Skills Fund’, FE Week