This House of Commons Library Briefing Paper provides a summary of how funding for 16-19 education in England has changed since 2010.Jump to full report >>
Substantial reforms have been made to the 16-19 education funding system since 2010, including the introduction of a new funding formula from 2013-14 that replaced the previous per-qualification funding model with a system of per-student funding. At the same time, the funding provided to the sector as a whole has been reduced.
The changes to the funding system mean that care should be taken when making comparisons about funding over time as it is not always the case that like is being compared with like (the main briefing explains these issues in more detail).
Following the Comprehensive Spending Review 2010, a number of changes were made to 16-19 education funding from the 2011-12 academic year. These included (but were not limited to):
The total programme funding allocated to 16-19 providers (including funding for 19-24 year olds with learning difficulties and/or disabilities) fell from £6.24 billion in 2010-11 to £6.05 billion in 2012-13 – a reduction of 3% in cash terms or 6% in real terms.
The average programme funding allocation per student declined by 0.4% in cash terms between 2010-11 and 2012-13, from £4,633 to £4,614 – a fall of 4% in real terms. The average per student allocation made to school sixth forms declined by 4% in cash terms over the period, from £4,976 to £4,775. For other further education (FE) providers there was a 1% cash terms increase from £4,470 to £4,533.
Further changes have been made to the 16-19 education funding system since the introduction of the new funding formula in 2013-14, including:
The total 16-19 programme and high needs funding allocated to providers fell from £6.09 billion in 2013-14 to £5.49 billion in 2018-19 – a reduction of 10% in cash terms and 17% in real terms.
The average total funding allocated per student (all funding included in allocations except Dance and Drama Awards and residential student support funding) increased from £4,856 in 2013-14 to £4,943 in 2018-19 – a fall in real terms of 5.7%. Of the three mainstream categories of 16‑19 provider, school sixth forms (including academy sixth forms) saw the biggest change in per student funding over the period – a fall of 7.2% in cash terms or 14.1% in real terms. Average per student funding fell by 3.3% in cash terms (10.4% in real terms) at sixth form colleges over the period and increased by 7.6% in cash terms (a real terms fall of 0.3%) at general FE colleges.
Based on the three main categories of expenditure contained in the funding body’s accounts, total expenditure on 16-19 education fell from £6.39 billion in 2010-11 to £5.68 billion in 2017-18, a reduction of 11.1% in cash terms and 20.6% in real terms.
The expenditure on school sixth forms (both maintained schools and academies) fell by 13.0% in cash terms over the period, or 22.3% in real terms. Expenditure on 16-19 FE (which includes sixth form colleges and general FE colleges) fell by 10.0% in cash terms and 19.6% in real terms.
Estimates produced by the Institute for Fiscal Studies show that, in 2018-19 prices:
A number of issues have been raised concerning the funding of 16-19 education. These include: