Falling Powys sixth form numbers a 'vicious circle'
A third of sixth form pupils from Powys may be going outside the county for lessons, councillors have heard.
School transformation manager Marianne Evans said the total could be more than 500, with under 1,000 staying in Powys.
She warned of a "vicious" circle of fewer students, funding cuts, and less choice of courses, resulting in even more youngsters going elsewhere.
Members were told the 11 sixth forms in Powys had seen funding cut by a third in five years, from £6.5m to £4.4m.
The council's learning and skills scrutiny committee heard the number of sixth form pupils at the county's schools had fallen by a third in the past decade, from 1,445 in 2010 to 978 this year.
'System is broken'
Ms Evans said: "This affects the funding we get from Welsh Government, which constrains the level of choice and number of subjects we can deliver.
"In our view this decreases the numbers again as learners choose to go to other institutions where there is wider provision and on it goes in a downward spiral.
"The current system is broken."
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A survey found 251 Powys sixth formers were going to college in Shrewsbury, nearly 50 to Coleg Cambria Llysfasi in Denbighshire, and 30 to Nantwich, Cheshire.
Ms Evans said it was thought when figures came in for colleges in Hereford, Merthyr Tydfil and Neath, they would take the total over 500.
In April, the council said it estimated the total going to sixth forms outside the county was around 200.
A decision on schools reorganisation is due to be taken by the county's cabinet in September, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.