PRINCIPALS of the 21 sixth form colleges in the North West have urged Chancellor Philip Hammond to boost funding for all sixth form students — not just those studying maths.

Under plans unveiled in the recent budget, schools and colleges will receive an extra £600 per student — but only for each additional student that decides to study A-level maths, further maths or a core maths qualification. The plans have been criticised by the Institute for Fiscal Studies as unnecessarily complicated and ‘unlikely to increase the numbers of pupils taking maths’.

The leaders of the colleges also support the IFS’s conclusion that the chancellor should have instead taken the opportunity to increase the basic rate of funding for all sixth form students. At a meeting at Winstanley College, the principals were launched the Support Our Sixth-form campaign locally urging the Government to increase funding for every sixth form student by £200 to £4,200.

Stuart Merrills, principal of Bolton Sixth Form College, said: “This campaign is really important as it effects every provider of post-16 education, not just the sixth form colleges, but all schools and further education colleges as well. This is about raising awareness and all of us working together, locally and nationally, to make sure we all are properly funded to ideally provide the educational experience and opportunities our students need.

“We’re very grateful to MPs like Sir David Crausby for lending their support to this campaign and Bolton Sixth Form College. We hope that with continued support and pressure we will be able secure a better future for all our learners wherever they are and whatever they study.”

A recent survey by the campaign showed that 50 per cent of schools and colleges have dropped courses in modern foreign languages as a result of funding pressures and 67 per cent have reduced student support services or extra-curricular activities – with significant cuts to mental health support, employability skills and careers advice.

Nick Burnham, chairman of the Sixth Form Colleges Association and principal of Cardinal Newman College in Preston and Kathryn Podmore, chairman of the North West region of the Sixth Form Colleges Association and CEO of the Wirral Academy Trust, said in a joint statement: “The Chancellor was right to increase funding for sixth form students in the budget, but wrong to focus this increase so narrowly on the number of additional students studying maths.

“Schools and colleges should receive sufficient funding to provide all young people with the high quality, internationally competitive, education they deserve — irrespective of the subjects they choose to study. Limiting the additional funding to maths sends out the unhelpful message that equally demanding subjects are not as valuable. Student demand should drive subject choice at A level, not financial incentives.”

from government. And £600 per additional student is unlikely to be sufficient to pay for qualified maths staff to deliver the courses. This policy is no substitute for funding all sixth form students fairly and sufficiently and that is what we urge the government to do.”