Sixth forms in England given £91m cash injection

By Katherine Sellgren
BBC News education reporter

image captionThe extra cash will help sixth form colleges repair crumbling buildings

Sixth forms in England are to receive extra funds to refurbish buildings and meet the demand for additional places.

The cash injection of £91m includes £57.4m for sixth form colleges for building needs and £30m for school and college places for 16 to 19-year-olds.

A further £3.9m maintenance grant will given direct to sixth form colleges.

The announcement comes as MPs debate the government's decision to abolish the Education Maintenance Allowance and teenagers rally against the cut.

Of the £91m, £57.4m will go to England's 94 sixth form colleges, specifically for building repairs.

£30m will go to sixth form colleges, school sixth forms and academy sixth forms to help them to expand provision for an increased demand for places when the compulsory education leaving age in England rises to 18 in 2013.

The rest of the cash will see sixth form colleges get - for the time time - a funding stream called the devolved formula capital, which schools already receive.

The Department for Education says this will mean the average sixth form college will be £40,000 better off.

Julian Gravatt, assistant chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said: "It's positive that they [the government] recognise the needs of building conditions in sixth form colleges."

image captionSixth form colleges have missed out on building funds that have been available to schools

But Mr Gravatt said there were some unresolved questions about how further education colleges, which are not included in this cash injection, will fund the extra demand for places over the next few years.

'Missed out'

Schools Minister Lord Hill said sixth form colleges with building needs had missed out on previous capital programmes.

"Even where funding is tight, it is essential that buildings and equipment are properly maintained, to ensure that health and safety standards are met, and to prevent a backlog of decay building up which is very expensive to address.

"This government is committed to ensuring that all young people have the opportunity to continue in education and training after the age of 16.

"I therefore want to ensure that funding is available to meet the need for additional places where there are demographic pressures in schools, academies and sixth form colleges."

David Igoe, chief executive of the Sixth Form Colleges Forum, said sixth form colleges would welcome this allocation of money.

"These allocations will enable them to undertake essential maintenance and refurbishment with some new building also possible.

"This will greatly enhance sixth form colleges' ability to sustain high quality education in these challenging times.

"Sixth form colleges have missed out on capital over the last two years and it is very encouraging to see the government redressing this unfairness."

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