Past Campaigns

Raise the Rate

Jan 2022: The rate has now been raised to £4,542.

The sixth form funding rate is frozen at £4,188 per student, per year. This rate is significantly below the funding given to 11-16s, and is insufficient to deliver high-quality 16-18 education. It's time to Raise the Rate.

Background


Education funding for 16 to 18 year olds has been cut sharply since 2010. During that time, costs have risen significantly, the needs of students have become more complex and the government has demanded much more of colleges and schools. However, the national funding rate (‘the rate’) for 16 and 17 year olds was frozen at £4,000 per student, per year in 2013 (and was reduced to £3,300 per year for 18 year olds in 2014).

The sustained underinvestment in sixth form funding over the past decade continues to have a negative impact on the education of students, the financial health of colleges and schools, and the ability of government to achieve its ambitions for the economy and social mobility. The funding impact survey carried out by the Raise the Rate campaign in 2019 showed that as a result of funding pressures:

  • 51% of schools and colleges have dropped courses in modern foreign languages
  • 38% have dropped STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) courses 
  • 78% have reduced student support services or extra-curricular activities – with significant cuts to mental health support, employability skills and careers advice
  • 81% are teaching students in larger class sizes

In the September 2019 spending round, the government announced that it would raise the rate to £4,188 per student from 2020/21, and this was extended for a further year in November 2020. This is a welcome step in the right direction, but research from London Economics indicates that £4,760 per student is the minimum level of additional funding required to increase student support services to the required level (e.g. mental health support), protect minority subjects that are at risk of being dropped (e.g. modern foreign languages), and increase non-qualification time (e.g. extra-curricular activities, work experience). The cross-party Education Select Committee has also called for “a post-16 core funding rate raise from £4,000 to at least £4,760 per student, rising in line with inflation.”

The House of Commons produces and regularly updates a briefing explaining changes to funding over the years, which sets out clearly how costs have increased and available funds have diminished.

 

Campaign


The Raise the Rate campaign (which is backed by the associations that represent schools, colleges, teachers, support staff, students and governors in England) would like to see the government make a clear commitment to increase the funding rate for 16, 17 and 18 year olds to at least £4,760 per student from 2022/23, accompanied by an annual rise in line with inflation. This should be in addition to, rather than instead of, a long term commitment to maintain the teachers’ pension grant and funding for high value/high cost subjects.

 

Get involved


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
  • Schools and college leaders can write to parents to secure their support for the campaign 
  • Tweet support using the campaign infographics and hashtag #raisetherate
  • Take photographs using the campaign poster and share on social media

A one page summary of the campaign can be found here. More information, infographics and template letters can be found on the campaign website raisetherate.org.uk #RaisetheRate

Member activity


Campaign

 

Videos and blogs


Videos

Blogs

 

Campaign in the news


UK Budget fails to deliver ‘skills revolution’, say education leaders​, Financial Times

Budget 2021: Rishi Sunak to pledge funding for T-levels​, BBC

​Spending review: Government criticised for ‘warm words’ on skills investment, FE Week

​Rishi Sunak's Budget plans 'falling apart' despite hollow new age of optimism pledge, The Mirror

Sixth forms and colleges need more than £500m in extra funding to support rise in students, think-tank says, The Independent

Extra £570m needed as post-16 student numbers grow, Tes

Colleges facing “immense” challenge from rising student numbers, warns IFS, FE Week

FE white paper: What do sector leaders want it to say? TesPartner activity


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Parliamentary activity


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Create the Capital

We were successful in our campaign for a capital expansion fund for sixth form specialist providers; you can read about this fund, which will be extended for 2022-25, here.

Background


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. 

We estimate that it costs around £2.5 million to expand an existing sixth form institution to accommodate an additional 200 students - around £12,500 per student. Analysis of data published by the Department of Education indicates that the average 16 to 19 free school costs around £11.5 million to build (including land purchase) and currently educates 397 students – around £29,000 per student.    

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 and the vast majority of funding is directed to capital improvement rather than capital expansion projects. This is why we need to #CreatetheCapital.

Campaign


The creation of a dedicated capital expansion fund for high performing sixth form providers should be a major priority in the comprehensive spending review and could be modelled on the existing expansion fund for grammar schools (but with non-selective institutions eligible to apply).

A dedicated capital expansion fund for sixth form providers would enable high performing, oversubscribed, institutions to expand their estate in order to accommodate more students. The fund would help to cater for the immediate, acute need for additional sixth form places in many parts of the country and form a key part of the longer term strategy to addressing the demographic boom in 16 to 18 year olds. We know from our own members that high performing sixth form colleges and 16 to 19 academies are having to squeeze more and more students into already overcrowded classrooms, or in some cases having to turn students away. COVID-19 has added additional pressure with places in high performing institutions now in even greater demand (even without the added challenge of social distancing) and signs that more 16 year olds are continuing in full time education rather than starting an apprenticeship or another form of work based learning. 

Three quarters of our members report that they have enrolled more students this year than last year. Although this was largely a result of the national improvement in GCSE grades, it does form part of a longer term trend. We have over-subscribed members with shovel-ready expansion projects that remain on ice due to the lack of an expansion fund. In the meantime, young people are being turned away from high performing institutions. This has to change. 

In addition, a separate capital maintenance fund for dedicated 16 to 18 institutions would 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. Consideration should also be given to expanding the scope of capital funding to cover IT infrastructure – serious investment is needed in this area if we are to keep pace with our international competitors.

Get involved


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 
  • Use the #CreatetheCapital hashtag on social media

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


Revealed: 39 post-16 providers to share £83m to accommodate demographic boom, FE WeekFE white paper: What do sector leaders want it to say? TesTemporary schools to be built to meet surge in demand for A level places, The TelegraphWe need more funds, say sixth-form heads, The TimesSixth forms may have to weed out weaker students, education chief warns, The TelegraphGCSE results: Students could face ‘scramble’ for places as better results expected than usual, The IndependentDemographic change: We are facing monumental expansion, TesWhat does FE really want from politicians? Certainty, FE WeekThe Labour Party's manifesto for 'real change' - sector response, FE NewsSector response to Conservative Party manifesto Right to Retrain and a £3 billion National Skills Fund‍ pledge, FE NewsConservatives announce manifesto pledge of £3bn over 5 years for a ‘new National Skills Fund’, FE WeekWe need to prepare for the surge of sixth formers, TES

No student left behind by Covid

Background


Covid has had a hugely negative impact on qualification delivery and the wider student experience. Young people have lost out on learning, but have also not been able to engage in extra curricular activities or spend time with their peer group, and many have found their mental and physical health has suffered as a result. The impact on economically disadvantaged students has been particularly stark. While the government has made both core and targeted funding available to 5 to 16 schools to aid Covid recovery, 16 to 18 education has received no core funding and a smaller amount of targeted funding. What’s more, this funding is targeted exclusively at students with low prior attainment in GCSE English and maths and can only be spent on small group tuition.

Campaign


The need for catch up and recovery support extends far beyond students that did not perform well in two of their GCSEs, so we are urging the government to introduce more flexibility in how Covid support funding for 16 to 18 year olds can be spent. Our members have been very clear that Covid-recovery interventions that take place during the core college day (e.g. via funding for increased teaching or support) will have a much greater impact than bolt on activities like summer schools. The government must get investment levels right, but also give college and school leaders the flexibility to tailor interventions to meet the needs of individual students.

Our asks are therefore:

  • On Covid catch up: eligibility for the 16-19 tuition fund in 2021/22 to be extended beyond those students with low prior attainment in English and maths, and greater flexibility in how the funding can be spent. The fund should operate in the same way as existing disadvantage funding – with a bigger pot of money and an early confirmation to help colleges and schools plan for the next academic year  
  • On Covid recovery: additional funding for additional activity (teaching or support) during the existing college day, very much along the lines of Raise the Rate (and backed by research commissioned by SFCA on international comparisons of 16-19 systems – 15 hours in England vs. 25-30 hours in other countries)

Recovery chart

                                      (Feb 2021 survey)

Get involved


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:

  • Share campaign points on social media -  here are three example tweets: 12, 3. Make sure to tag us if you use one of these!
  • Use these infographics - one oninternational comparisons of contact hours and one on SFCA members' ratings of potential recovery policies
  • 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 three of our campaigns can be found here – please feel free to adapt the text and add specific examples from your own college or school.

Reform the sixth form market

Background


There are currently separate processes for adding a sixth form to a maintained school, adding a sixth form to an academy and establishing a free school (16 to 19 or all through). In addition, the decision to add or create a sixth form is rarely linked to the current and future provision in non-school providers such as sixth form colleges. This lack of co-ordination was reflected in the government’s area reviews of post-16 education in England that focused on the viability of colleges but not school and academy sixth forms (where 40% of 16 to 18 year olds are educated).

Campaign


As the number of 16 to 18 year olds starts to increase, the need to reform the process for establishing new sixth form provision will become even more pressing. This should be a single process focussed on the age range of students (16 to 18 year olds) rather than where they study (school or college) and should begin with an impartial assessment of current and future demand in each local area.

Once this has been established, a competitive process for establishing new sixth form provision should take place that is open to all types of sixth form provider. This is more likely to result in a sixth form solution that is right for each local area and is a more effective way of dealing with the national increase in student numbers. We urge the government to support our call for a more coherent, co-ordinated approach in this area as it is a pre- requisite to ensuring both value for money and high quality educational outcomes.

Get involved


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.

Page Downloads Date  
Engaging your MP 2021 23rd Mar 2021 Download
Sixth form education: Priorities for 2021 26th Mar 2021 Download
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