Priority 5: Create the capital


Priority 5: Create the capital

  • The IFS estimates that an additional 170,000 students have entered sixth form education since 2019, and projects a further increase in participation beyond 2024. As a result, sixth form colleges are squeezing more and more students into already overcrowded classrooms, or turning students away. 

  • In some parts of the country it makes sense to establish new institutions to meet the demographic increase in 16 to 19 year olds. 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 new free schools.  

  • To make this a reality, a capital expansion fund for sixth form institutions modelled on the current post-16 capacity fund should operate on an annual basis. This 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 a longer-term strategy to address rising demographics. At least £200 million should be made available through the expansion fund each year.  

  • A separate capital maintenance fund is also required to address the significant challenges many institutions keeping their buildings safe and in good working order. This should combine the current School Condition Allocations (currently limited to larger multi-academy trusts) with Devolved Formula Capital to form an annual allocation, and operate alongside a new Sixth Form Improvement Fund supporting larger maintenance projects.  

  • Most capital funding for sixth form colleges is currently awarded following a competitive bidding process. But the total amount of funding set aside nationally is so low, and competition is so fierce, that colleges often have to spend a significant amount of revenue funding at the bidding stage to have a realistic chance of success.   

  • Sixth form colleges should not have to divert scarce resources to make the case for essential capital projects (particularly as they are very often not approved). Like revenue funding, sixth form capital funding is characterised by a high level of uncertainty and bureaucracy. 

  • A ringfenced sixth form capital budget should be agreed at the beginning of each spending review period and disbursed through a combination of annual formulaic allocations and annual bidding rounds.  

  • When colleges are required to bid for capital funding, they should be given more time to navigate a much less bureaucratic process, and successful bidders should be provided with a realistic deadline for completing capital projects.  

Detailed priorities 

  • Simplicity: consolidate existing capital streams into core expansion and maintenance funds for sixth form institutions 

  • Certainty: confirm annual budgets and bidding/allocation timescales for both funds at the beginning of each spending review period 

  • Autonomy: dramatically reduce the bureaucratic burden on sixth form colleges caused by capital bidding and delivery regulations

To read our full manifesto, with details of our five other priorities, click here.

Back to Priority Four  Forward to Priority Six

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now