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Sixth Form Education: Finance

Volume 488: debated on Wednesday 25 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what recent discussions he has had with the Learning and Skills Council on the funding of schools with sixth forms where the number of pupils exceeds the stated anticipated number; and if he will make a statement. (256876)

[holding answer 23 February 2009]: The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) is currently agreeing with school sixth forms the funding allocations for 2009/10. Those allocations will take account of the number of pupils schools recruited and retained in 2008/09 and whether this was above or below planned expectations. We anticipate that where numbers exceeded plans in 2008/09, this above planned growth will be consolidated into 2009/10 allocations. However, this will be subject to affordability.

Under the current system, grant funded providers (schools and further education colleges) do not have their funding allocation varied during the year unless they can demonstrate their allocation causes them financial difficulty. Where this is the case the LSC will consider, on a case by case basis, the need for extra funding in exceptional circumstances. However, as announced in the LSC's Annual Statement of Priorities, published in November 2008, the DCSF and LSC are currently considering whether a more flexible system of funding is needed to best ensure that funding matches learner choice.

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families under what circumstances schools receive exceptional funding support for sixth forms; and if he will make a statement. (256877)

[holding answer 23 February 2009]: Exceptional funding for a school sixth form is only available on a case-by-case basis either from a local authority (LA) or from the Learning and Skills Council (LSC).

The financial viability of a sixth form cannot be distinguished from the overall financial viability of the school, which is the responsibility of the local authority. Local authorities have the discretion, through the School Finance (England) Regulations 2008, to support schools in financial difficulty providing that they have agreed with their schools forum the arrangements for implementation of such support. Where a school gets into a deficit it must agree a deficit recovery plan with the LA.

The only circumstances in which the LSC would consider exceptional financial support to a school sixth form would be if one year’s funding allocation caused the school a particular financial difficulty. The LSC would consider such exceptional action only in relation to the individual circumstances arising in the school’s sixth form.