My name is Jessica and I am currently on my second week of work experience working in Nic Dakin’s office. Today I decided to write regarding the strikes about funding to sixth forms.
On the 15th of March, over 3,800 teachers from 93 sixth form colleges across the United Kingdom are expected to be striking regarding the reduced funding to colleges. The decision comes from the National Union of Teaching (NUT) proceeding a vote of 86% yes to striking on the high turnout of 44%.
During the coalition government, sixth form colleges faced real term funding cuts of 14% and are now facing further cuts of 8%. This is on top of sixth form colleges being unable to claim back VAT, a decision which costs colleges over £335,000 a year- however sixth forms in school are able to do this. The reason given by the government as to why a sixth form college cannot claim back their VAT is that they are not part of the local government and nor are they an academy.
Figures from August 2015 state that since the 2011 funding cuts, 72% of colleges across the United Kingdom have had to drop courses and a further 81% have had to increase the sizes of their classes. Surely one of the major aspects of attending a sixth form college is the smaller classes and wider ranges of courses, that a sixth form school simply cannot offer. Yet these cuts are leading to courses being dropped and classes increasing in size.
Sixth form colleges receive funding from the pupils that they have, as do sixth form schools. However it is the sixth form colleges being targeted by the funding cuts. If you apply the common formula for funding, in 2013/2014, a sixth form college received £4560 per pupil, in comparison to £5013 for a sixth form school. This isn’t acceptable. Why have such a drastic difference between the two forms of 16-19 education? This comes alongside the fact that sixth form schools also do not have to pay for VAT as this is reimbursed from the government.
In the Scunthorpe constituency, sixth form colleges are the only option unless you are willing to travel out of constituency. Scunthorpe has John Leggott College, North Lindsey College and Humber University Technical College (UTC). Both John Leggott and North Lindsay face further cuts of 8% to their funding, alongside the 14% from the coalition government. This isn’t acceptable. Surely the government should be investing instead of removing funding.
I fully support this decision of the NUT and their members. Surely one day of striking is worth the potential impacts of this strike. Not only will partaking union members be striking in their own areas, but a vast turnout is expected to the London based rally which will end outside Parliament.