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Headteachers' anger at sixth form cuts

PUBLISHED: 14:24 23 April 2009 | UPDATED: 16:07 07 September 2010

Robyn Rosen HEADTEACHERS have spoken out after a government blunder led to more than half a million pounds being cut from Haringey s sixth forms. Schools and colleges were given initial post-16 education budgets on March 2 by the Learning and Skills Counc

Robyn Rosen

HEADTEACHERS have spoken out after a government blunder led to more than half a million pounds being cut from Haringey's sixth forms.

Schools and colleges were given initial post-16 education budgets on March 2 by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) - but less than a month later, they were slashed. In Haringey, this means a five per cent cut - from £12,390,513 to £11,802,966 - is equivalent to funding for 81 pupils. The LSC says it is due to underestimating pupil growth and it has had to allocate less money per pupil.

In a statement, the LSC said: "It is clear that our letter of March 2 to schools has caused them confusion and concern, for which we apologise. It was misleading to say that these were final rather than provisional allocations."

Critics are questioning the impact on schools and whether courses will be cut.

In the west of the borough, Fortismere in Muswell Hill has been hit the hardest, with a cut of £103,860 - a five per cent loss from the previous allocation.

Headteacher Aydin Onac said: "I'm very concerned about what I have heard and the brief details I've seen. Given the government is trying to encourage more students to study in sixth form, it seems extraordinary that funds are being cut. I'm looking into it as a matter of urgency."

Alexandra Park school, in Bidwell Gardens, lost £56,065 - equivalent to nine pupils.

Headteacher Mike McKenzie said: "It is immensely disappointing and frustrating to be informed in a haphazard manner - and at the 11th hour - of such a significant reduction in funding, particularly as it seems that our success in recruiting students and securing excellent results has had no bearing on the support that we receive.

"While it is possible to understand the constraints that exist in a recession, I am at a complete loss to understand the logic of pursuing a policy which will almost certainly reduce the number of places available to students for post-16 study.

"Not only is this at odds with the oft-cited pledge of guaranteeing a place in education for all students after the age of 16, but it also seems ridiculous to expect young people to compete for employment in the current economic climate."

Hornsey and Wood Green MP Lynne Featherstone wants answers from schools secretary Ed Balls. She claims the news is another blunder for Haringey schools, which receive £1,300 less funding per pupil than neighbouring boroughs.

"This is yet another blow to our schools' funding and flies in the face of any promises to give our kids the world's best education," she said.

The council said: "We are very concerned about this. We are committed to supporting our young people through sixth forms and into further education."

Cllr Gail Engert, Lib Dem schools spokeswoman, said: "A reduction in funding is contrary to the government's aspiration for more children in further education. Our young people in Haringey will feel that the door to further education has been firmly shut in their faces."

The LSC says it will be contacting schools again at the end of this month to confirm final details.


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