Sixth-form spending is expected to fall by 15.8 per cent in the next three years, according to a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

The IFS estimates that the Department for Education’s (DfE) Deparmental Expenditure Limit (DEL) for sixth-form funding will drop from £2.4 billion in 2011-12 to £2.2 billion in 2014-15.

The report, titled ‘Trends in education and schools spending’, says that this is equivalent to a 17.6 per cent reduction in ‘real terms’.

A spokesperson from the DfE said: “Whilst we have had to make some difficult decisions in order to reduce costs and secure greater efficiency – including by removing the historic gap in funding between school and college funding – our priorities have been to protect funding for the core education programmes for young people as well as targeting more help and support on the students with greatest needs.”

They added that Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, didn’t dispute the figures in the report when interviewed on the BBC this morning (October 25).

The IFS report states: “It seems clear that spending on the education of 16- to 19-year-olds will receive a disproportionately large cut, as evidenced by planned real-terms cuts to all areas of spending in 2011–12 and expected cuts to sixth-form spending by 2014–15.

“These cuts will take place at a time when the education leaving age is due to start rising (from 16 to 18) from 2013, which is likely to make the pressures on individual providers even greater.”

The statistics were calculated using spending plans published by the DfE, the Young People’s Learning Agency (YPLA), and those in the Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses (PESA) and the 2010 Spending Review.

The IFS says that the figures are “not exhaustive”, but are “the most comprehensive assessment published to date.”

The IFS said they expected the total cuts to 16-9 edcuation to be “of a similar magnitude” to the 20 per cent spending reductions estimated for the early years and youth services.

Cuts to the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) was later attributed to the expected 4.1 per cent fall in total spenditure for 16-19 education in 2011-12.

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    • The 17.6% real cut from 2010-11 to 2014-15 is “sixth-form funding” in the report. It is not clear if that is both school sixth forms and sixth forms – or only the former. The report does separate out “Further Education” under a heading of “16-19 education” but has a ? against the figure for the cut by 2014-15. A key point of the report is the lack of transparency over the spending plans. (Of course that assumes that there is a plan.)