October 2017

The know zone

  • Diversity in focus
    Anna Cole highlights the latest initiatives on equality and diversity at ASCL and in the wider sector. More
  • Where's the money?
    New 16-19 money is apparently on its way but will schools see any of it? Kevin Gilmartin examines government post-16 funding pledges. More
  • To pay or not to pay?
    Sara Ford explains the real implications of the STRB's recommendations on teacher pay. More
  • Let's talk about SATs
    Last year's Key Stage 2 SATs results generated more questions than they answered. One year on, has the dust settled? Julie McCulloch takes a look. More
  • We need to talk...
    How do you teach personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) at your school? What approaches do you take? What topics do you focus on? Is your school teaching PSHE in an innovative way? Here ASCL members have their say... More
  • Leaders' surgery
    Hotline advice expressed here, and in calls to us, is made in good faith to our members. Schools and colleges should always take formal HR or legal advice from their indemnified provider before acting. More
  • Take back control
    Former school leader Ross Morrison McGill said that during his time as a leader, he experienced eight Ofsted inspections under various frameworks and goalposts. Yet, he says, one factor has always remained consistent in each of them: anxiety. More
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New 16–19 money is apparently on its way but will schools see any of it? Kevin Gilmartin examines government post-16 funding pledges.

Where's the money?

There was a time when sixth form funding was not only sufficient enough to be able to offer a broad curriculum but, whisper it softly, was sometimes used to help subsidise years 7–11. How times have changed. A recent report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IfS) found that, at the start of the 1990s, spending on sixth form students may have been as much as 50% higher than on secondary pupils. Now it is as at least 10% lower. Cross subsidisation is still occurring but now it is the 11–16 year-olds who are cross-subsidising the sixth formers.

What new money is promised?

While the Conservative manifesto commitments on education were greatly watered down in the most recent Queen’s Speech, two notable areas did remain. The government commitments to both technical education and to a strategic review of ‘tertiary education funding’ seem here to stay (although huge caveats now need to be attached to any policy predictions).

For technical education, we can read ‘T levels’, the qualifications to be gained from following one of the 15 technical routes first outlined in last summer’s Skills Plan. In the Spring Budget, Philip Hammond promised up to £500 million new money for T levels, an amount that was confirmed by the new government after the General Election.

The first tranche of this funding, £60 million, will be spent in 2018/19 and this amount will rise each year to the promised £500 million per annum by 2021/22. This funding seems certain despite the government’s July announcement that T levels are being put back by a year to allow time “to ensure the reforms are delivered properly”.

This is probably sensible, given the uncertainties around the transition year element, core content including English and maths and employer engagement on the work placements.

What is this new money for?

This new money has been allocated to pay for additional ‘teaching time’ on the T levels programme, raising the present 600 hours up to 900. However, to hope that this addresses, at last, the inequality in contact time that our 16–19 year-olds experience compared to our international competitor countries, is unfortunately wrong.

The new money is mainly earmarked to deliver the substantial high-quality three-month work placement that all students must undertake in order to successfully achieve a T level. Exactly how it is spent is still uncertain and ASCL is contributing to the consultation, but work placement co-ordinator salaries, student travel and subsistence allowances and employer incentive payments are all on the table at the moment.

To think that this will mean extra funding for teacher or lecturer salaries is almost certainly over-optimistic as well, although extra funding to pay enhanced market rates to specialist industry experts to teach technical content may be necessary. The DfE is spending some of the money on pilot studies that test institutions’ capacity for running the work placements.

Can schools access this new money?

Government information refers to T levels as being “college-based”, but schools and private training providers have not been ruled out from being able to deliver the routes and therefore access the new money. While Applied General (AG) qualifications are still available at level three, then most schools will probably not opt in, however while AGs are presently “allowed to continue as a route of study”, they are still subject to a “formal review”. Nevertheless, irrespective of the AG review outcome, some schools that have strong links with local businesses, or that work in partnership with their local FE college, may decide that T levels can play a key part in their 16–19 curriculum strategy. In addition, if the results of the new reformed AGs end up being significantly lower than at present, then T levels may look more tempting.

What happens in the meantime?

Funding for non-technical 16–19 education looks stagnant at best, so ASCL is determined to continue its campaign, which includes lobbying government (along with partners such as the Sixth Form Colleges Association (SFCA) and the Association of Colleges (AoC)).

Schools need to continue with the increasingly difficult juggling act of providing a cost-effective sixth form curriculum that still offers breadth and quality, and local collaboration is likely to increase. Keeping a watchful eye out for technical education developments should now also be on a school’s radar. So, while new money this may be, new opportunities for all this is probably not.

Kevin Gilmartin
ASCL Post-16 and Colleges Specialist