FE bosses have urged the government to address a growing dip in funding for 16 to 19-year-olds that could “stymie” talent.

In a letter to Education Secretary  Michael Gove, leaders of organisations representing heads and college principals claimed that funding will slump from £4,645 for every 16 to 19-year-old in 2011/12 to less than £4,400 by 2015.

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), Martin Doel, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, David Igoe, chief executive of the Sixth Form Colleges’ Forum and Nick Lewis, general secretary of Principals Professional Council (PPC) said the cuts could lead to popular subjects being scrapped, increased class sizes and reductions in teaching time, tutorial and pastoral support.

“At a time when the age for participation in education is being raised [to 17 in 2013 and 18 in 2015] and when social mobility is a flagship government policy, it makes no sense for frontline provision to be jeopardised by these funding cuts,” Mr Lightman told FE Week.

“This is why we have written to the Sectary of State urging him to work with us to ensure that the young people in our schools and colleges are not let down, and that these worthwhile policies, which ASCL strongly supports, do not fail.”

We are concerned that the 16 to 19 funding dip could stymie the best endeavours of schools and colleges”

The letter claimed that income per pupil under 16 in secondary schools was £5,620 in 2011/2012 — £1,000 more than for 16 to 19-year-olds — while in the same year the average fee per university student was £8,414.

It warned the disparity would cause “significant and adverse consequences for 16 to 19 education”, and pressed the government to act before the next Comprehensive Spending Review.

It said: “We are concerned that the 16 to 19 funding dip could stymie the best endeavours of schools and colleges to cultivate the potential talents of young people.

“The next comprehensive spending review should re-evaluate the resources needed for a good education for all 16 to 19-year-olds in state education.”

It added: “The 16 to 19 funding dip has appeared as an unwelcome anomaly. An anomaly that we believe should be removed.”

Mike Hopkins, chair of PPC, told FE Week: “This government should demonstrate its dedication and support for skills as a priority by increasing fair funding for all.”

The group said it “welcomed” the opportunity to work with the government in “helping to determine the resources needed to achieve these aims and how these resources are then best deployed”.

A Department for Education spokesperson said the government was spending £7.5 billion this year on education and training for 16-19 year olds.

“Work on the next Spending Review Period is on-going and no decisions have been taken,” said the spokesperson.

“As the participation age increases, we are providing funding to ensure schools and colleges can offer places in education or training to all young people who want them,” she added.

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