The Support Our Sixth-formers (SOS) campaign was launched on 8th May 2017 to coincide with the publication of the Sixth Form Colleges Association's (SFCA) 2017 election manifesto .
The SFCA manifesto reports that funding pressures are turning sixth form education into a part-time experience, with sixth formers in England now receiving just half as much tuition time as sixth formers in other leading economies. A sustained period of underinvestment has led to schools and colleges receiving 21% less funding to educate sixth formers than younger students. The average fee for a single term in an independent school sixth form is now more than state schools and colleges receive to educate a sixth former for an entire year.
The manifesto calls on all political parties to adopt the following four recommendations aimed at increasing investment in sixth form education:
- Introduce an ‘SOS uplift’ in funding to improve the support offered to sixth form students
- Conduct a review of sixth form funding
- Introduce a VAT refund scheme for all sixth form providers
- Introduce a competitive process for establishing new sixth form provision
The main recommendation, and the focus of the campaign, is the introduction of an ‘SOS uplift’ in funding of £200 per student (an overall increase of less than 5%) that schools and colleges can use to improve the support offered to sixth formers.
This increased investment would be used to boost students’ employability skills to help them flourish in the workplace and improve careers advice to ensure students make better choices when leaving sixth form education. It would also be used to support the growing number of sixth form students experiencing mental health problems and improve students’ study skills to aid exam performance in the sixth form and beyond. As the funding that schools and colleges now receive covers little more than the cost of delivering three A level or equivalent qualiﬁcations, all of these vital support activities have been scaled back.
SFCA is encouraging everybody with an interest in sixth form education (including parents, students, teachers, governors, school and college leaders) to engage with Prospective Parliamentary Candidates ahead of the general election on June 8th 2017.