Funding Campaign




About the Campaign                                                                                                                 

Funding pressures are turning sixth form education into a part-time experience, with sixth formers in England now receiving just half as much tuition time as sixth formers in other leading economies. A sustained period of underinvestment has led to schools and colleges receiving 21% less funding to educate sixth formers than younger students. The average fee for a single term in an independent school sixth form is now more than state schools and colleges receive to educate a sixth former for an entire year. The funding that schools and colleges now receive to educate sixth formers covers the cost of delivering three A level or equivalent qualifications, and little more. As a result, the wider support offer to students has been greatly diminished.

Cuts to 16-19 (sixth form) funding introduced in 2011, 2013 and 2014 have proved particularly damaging. Alongside these reductions, inflationary pressures have continued to bite and costs have continued to rise. Without more investment, there will be further cuts to courses (particularly STEM and languages), class sizes will continue to increase, and school sixth forms in rural areas will simply disappear.

The chronic underinvestment in academic sixth form education is bad for students, bad for our international competitiveness and bad for social mobility. As the associations that represent schools, colleges, students and governors in England, we are calling on the government to prioritise investment in sixth form education.

A modest annual increase in funding of £200 per student would help schools and colleges to begin reassembling the range of support activities required to meet the individual needs of young people. This uplift is affordable – we estimate it would cost £244 million per year to implement – and could be partly funded by using the underspend in the Department for Education’s budget for 16–19 education (that amounted to £135 million in 2014/15, £132 million in 2015/16 and £106 million in 2016/17). This increased investment would be used to boost students’ employability skills to help them flourish in the workplace and improve careers advice to ensure students make better choices when leaving sixth form education. It would also be used to support the growing number of sixth form students experiencing mental health problems and improve students’ study skills to aid exam performance in the sixth form and beyond.

A more fundamental review of sixth form funding is required to re-introduce a link between investment levels and the actual cost of delivering a high quality education. There is a clear disconnect between the arbitrary amount of funding the government provides to educate sixth formers in England and the actual cost of providing their education.

The Support Our Sixth-formers campaign that concluded in April 2018, was successful in getting the government to undertake a review of 16-19 funding. The materials below will be updated during April and May 2018 to reflect the next stage of our joint funding campaign.

Key documents

  The Support Our Sixth-formers campaign: funding impact survey report can be found here.

 The Support Our Sixth-formers manifesto can be found here.

 A one-page summary of the manifesto can be found here

How can I support the campaign?

We encourage everybody with an interest in sixth form education (including parents, students, teachers, governors, school and college leaders) to engage with MPs. A full list of MPs and their contact details can be found here

Our Underspend Tool quantifies the amount of funding each school or college missed out on as a result of the underspend in the 16-19 education budget being redirected to 'other priorities'. At a time when 16-19 education is in dire need of additional investment, we believe that schools and colleges should at least receive all the funding that the government has set aside to educate sixth form students.

We encourage school and college leaders to invite MPs to a face to face meeting to discuss the funding campaign. During the meeting, leaders should ask MPs to:

 Tweet support for the campaign using the campaign hashtag #SupportOurSixthFormers

 Write to their party leader urging them to adopt the recommendations in the Support Our Sixth-formers manifesto.

 Issue a press release following the meeting highlighting the SOS Campaign

Download your social media toolkit which contains everything you need to spread the message online.

Briefings and Reports

 Letter to Chancellor  Underspend Tool  SFCA Budget Submission 2017  Briefing for MPs: 16-19 Education Funding Debate  Briefing for MPs: international comparisons of sixth form education  Tuition time in upper secondary education (16-19): International Comparisons  SFCA Funding Impact Survey 2016  

More information

For more information about the funding campaign, please contact James Kewin, SFCA Deputy Chief Executive:, or Vanessa Donhowe, SFCA Policy and Research Officer: 

ASCL members can contact Malcolm Trobe, ASCL Director of Public Affairs

AoC members can contact Julian Gravatt, AoC Deputy Chief Executive