Drop the Learning Tax campaign


The Government refunds the Value Added Tax (VAT) costs of schools and academies but not Sixth Form Colleges - this leaves the average Sixth Form College with £335,000 less to spend on the education of students each year. The imposition of VAT on Sixth Form Colleges is a tax on learning that redirects funding away from the front line education of young people.

We want all political parties to make a commitment to drop the learning tax ahead of the General Election in May 2015

Introducing a VAT refund scheme for Sixth Form Colleges would help to ensure that students in the sector receive the same level of investment in their education as students in school or academy sixth forms. No young person should be penalised because of where they choose to study in the sixth form.

By agreeing to drop the learning tax, the Government would enable Sixth Form Colleges to repair some of the damage done as a result of the three funding cuts imposed since 2010 by:

  • Continuing to offer key subjects such as languages and sciences
  • Maintaining enrichment activities such as drama, music and sport
  • Keeping class sizes at a manageable level
  • Sustaining staff training to support teaching and learning

Sixth Form Colleges also have to pay 20% VAT on capital expenditure. This means that a Sixth Form College must pay £1.2 million to complete a building project that would cost a school or academy just £1 million to complete. The learning tax means Sixth Form Colleges must pay more to improve or expand their student facilities than schools or academies.

Refunding the VAT costs of Sixth Form Colleges would benefit students in schools and academies too. Sixth Form Colleges provide a lot of support to underperforming schools and academies – this has led to improved GCSE results, increased progression rates to further and higher education and higher quality teaching. Dropping the learning tax would provide a lifeline for these activities, most of which are under threat as a result of funding cuts.

Sixth Form Colleges receive less funding than school or academy sixth forms and have experienced deeper cuts to their budgets since 2010. Dropping the learning tax would address a clear inequality in the funding system. Much more importantly, it would help to ensure that students in Sixth Form Colleges receive the funding required to provide the high quality education they deserve.

We want all political parties to make a commitment to drop the learning tax ahead of the General Election in May 2015

You can also support the campaign through Twitter by using the hashtag #DropTheLearningTax and following SFCA_info. You can also support us on Facebook by liking and sharing the drop the learning tax page www.facebook.com/dropthelearningtax.

Resources pack for colleges

Frequently Asked Questions

Other useful briefings and reports

Contact us

For more information on the drop the learning tax campaign, please contact:

James Kewin, SFCA Deputy Chief Executive
0207 664 3108


Laura Janowski, SFCA Policy and Research Officer
0207 187 7328