Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Step in the right direction for post-16 funding

ASCL has given its response to the LSC consultation on Delivering World-class Skills in a Demand-led System, the LSC and DfES joint consultation on the future of post-16 education and training.

The document is primarily about changes to the planning for adult and work-based education and training; the changes for school sixth forms and sixth form colleges are less revolutionary but still important.

There are proposed changes both to the funding formula and to the planning regime to bring the various providers onto a level playing field.

The most important change is in the proposed planning cycle. New provision for a significant number of students would be dealt with through a bidding process. Organic growth (to fill existing courses) would be dealt with by an annual planning meeting with the LSC; schools and colleges can agree a change to their existing numbers on roll for the next year based on their best planning estimate.

Two options have been put forward for determining funding. The first and simplest is to fund the planned numbers with no in-year adjustments. This provides certainty of funding for planning purposes.

The second option includes in-year adjustments to funding, so money is clawed back in year for under-recruitment or added for over-recruitment against planned numbers. The LSC would hold back a contingency fund to allow for any over-recruitment so less money is allocated at the start and there has to be an audited reconciliation of numbers in-year if the money is to be added or subtracted.

ASCL has pressed for the first option as it is by far the less bureaucratic and would mean that more money goes directly into schools and colleges, rather than being held in contingency by the LSC.

Finally, there are changes to the funding formula to bring coherence across the system. The formula is still basically on the number of students on courses. The indicator for social deprivation is an improved measure using the Index of Multiple Deprivation for the students actually in the sixth form.

The money for additional learner support (literacy and numeracy) is based on the previous attainment of the students. The money for achievement is based on the institution's success rate (number who started the course divided by the number who completed and passed). The funding cap is calculated at the student level, instead of averaged across the school.

ASCL has supported these measures as rational steps towards a more equitable funding formula. Schools and colleges have until 30 March to respond to the consultation.

Lindsey Wharmby
ASCL Funding Consultant

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