Past Campaigns

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.

Create the Capital

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

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