Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

LSC post-16 funding

The Learning and Skills Council has carried out a further round of 'assurance visits' with school sixth forms to verify funding claims.

This year's results are still provisional but have raised a number of the same concerns as the 2004 visits. Of the 65 schools in the random sample, 15 per cent were over-funded by more than 5 per cent. This means that the data they submitted in 2004 was significantly inaccurate.

Only five schools in the sample had submitted fully correct data and 60 per cent had over-claimed for students or courses. A number of schools were still not keeping adequate documentation to validate their claim.

SHA is working closely with the LSC to minimise bureaucracy and to ensure that the requirements for data retention are reasonable. We have also worked with the LSC to keep the assurance visits at a reasonable sample size (about 10 per cent) annually.

Therefore this incorrect data is a major cause for concern. The large proportion of schools submitting incorrect claims (and a number did underclaim!) could lead to either a significant increase in sample size or annual assurance visits for all school sixth forms. This clearly will lead to more work for schools.

Some of the errors reported in 2004 or 2005 were:

  • rolling all of Y11 into Y12

  • not removing the Y12 leavers and including them in Y13

  • not removing the courses 'dropped' by Y12 students when they move to Y13

  • assuming all students have a full complement of courses (eg five AS courses)

  • claiming general studies as a 'full cost' AS or A level

  • inaccurate information as to whether courses are A, B or C weighted courses

It was noted that where submissions had a 'final check' by a member of the school leadership team there were fewer errors.

For the September 2005 return, schools are urged to:

  • have their submission checked by a member of the SLT

  • verify that only students currently on roll are included

  • ensure that individual student courses are accurately totaled

  • ensure that courses are checked for A, B or C weightings

The information that schools are required to retain is given in School Sixth Forms: Funding Guidance for 2004-5 on page 23. The 2005-06 guidance will have updated data.

Schools are also urged to maintain a full set of supporting data as required in the funding guidance. This will be needed if the school is selected for an assurance visit.

By Malcolm Trobe, SHA Vice President

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