Participation by 16-19 year olds in education and training - Education Committee Contents

Letter submitted by Martin Doel, Chief Executive, Association of Colleges, dated 2 June 2011


The Young People's Learning Agency is currently consulting informally on proposals for changing the funding formula and system for 2012-13. A full public consultation is scheduled to start in June. We understand that Department for Education Ministers and officials have received many representations on funding and have concluded that the formula is too complicated. They would also like to create a "pupil premium" which covers 16-18 year olds.

The areas of possible change are:

–  Converting the current disadvantage factor used in post-16 funding into a post-16 pupil premium. The plan would be to implement this in 2012-13 and might involve a different basis for identifying who is eligible, possibly using the ICACI index in place of the Index of Multiple Deprivation.

–  A smaller number of funding rates (possibly as few as six compared to 1,000+ now) to achieve Alison Wolf's recommendation that qualifications should not drive budgets.

–  Removing the success rate from the formula and, instead, allocating funding to a combination of enrolments and completions. There is particular pressure from schools for this because the current system of calculating school success rates produces errors.

–  Changing the way in which high-cost Additional Learner Support is allocated to reflect policy decisions from the SEN Green Paper.

It is possible that changes will be implemented over several years but 16-18 education is in some flux at present for the following reasons:

–  There are planned cuts in funding per student, which were masked by 97% transitional relief in 2011-12.

–  There was a shortfall in 16-18 enrolments against DfE expectations in 2010-11 and the winding up of Education Maintenance Allowances (EMAs) could cause further problems in 2011-12, particularly as local council services , such as advice and guidance, are also in retreat.

–  There are continuing curriculum changes including those stemming from the collapse of the diploma and the implementation of the Wolf Review.

–  There is growing competition from new providers and new provision, including new schools, new Sixth Forms and the expansion in apprenticeships.

–  The conversion of the YPLA to become an Education Funding Agency and the rapid increase in the number of academies changes the focus of the main 16-18 funding organisation.


Colleges are still awaiting confirmation of how much funding they will receive for the Bursary, and therefore remain unable to properly develop criteria on which to distribute the Bursary to students. As you know, DfE will be issuing and some Colleges are already developing a region-wide approach, for example in London, and we plan to publish some informal advice to our members on Bursary too. We still believe that discretion remains important to enable Colleges to reflect their local circumstances. We also believe the DfE should inform local authorities that there is no legal impediment to providing access for Colleges and schools to the list of Year 11 pupils in their area who were in receipt of free school meals (FSM). Although we recognise that there are problems with using FSM data as a proxy for disadvantage, it could be a useful tool for schools and Colleges.


You asked for examples of where local authorities might be reducing transport support. One such example is Lincolnshire County Council which has redrawn the travel boundaries and designated nearest Colleges and sixth forms. This means students will only receive subsidised transport to the nearest designated College, irrespective of whether that College offers the course the student wishes to do. The cost of travel, even when subsidised, has also increased dramatically.

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Prepared 19 July 2011