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Sixth-formers still lose out under main parties’ funding plans, says think-tank

Sixth-formers would still lose out compared to secondary school pupils under funding plans put forward by each of the main political parties, new analysis suggests

 

While 16 to 18-year-olds would get a slightly more generous deal than schools, spending per pupil would still be around 10% lower than each of the parties’ proposals for secondaries, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

A paper published by the economic think-tank says that the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats are all proposing extra spending on education for 16 to 18-year-olds in England over the next five years.

The Tory and Lib Dem proposals would keep spending per 16 to 18-year-old constant in real terms over the next parliament it says, while Labour’s plans would see a real-terms increase of around 8% in funding.

But in each case, per pupil spending for sixth-forms and further education colleges would still remain lower than the parties’ proposals for secondary schools funding.

Over the last 30 years, spending on 16 to 18 education has been “substantially worse” than other areas of education funding, the IFS says.

In 2017/18 per pupil funding for sixth-formers was 13% lower than per pupil funding in secondary schools.

“As with spending on schools, there is a clear difference between the Conservative and Labour plans,” the paper says.

“Labour propose an 8% real-terms increase in funding per 16 to 18-year-old pupil over the parliament, whereas the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats propose a real-terms freeze.

“Both of the Conservative and Labour proposals for spending on 16 to 18-year-olds are more generous than their respective plans for school spending, which would go a small way to reversing the relative trends in spending on pupils of different ages seen over the last 30 years.

“However, in each case, spending per student in 16 to 18 education would remain about 10% lower than it would be for secondary schools.”

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said: “Our young people cannot afford another five years of education cuts, leading to further decline.

“Only Labour is offering a properly funded education system fit for the many, not the few.”

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