Dispute over costs of flagship schools

August 2, 1996

A Government study on funding education for 16 to 19-year-olds contains serious errors, according to further education associations.

The six associations claim that Tory flagship grant-maintained schools are the most expensive places to take A levels, while the cheapest, colleges, cost Pounds 805 less. But Government figures claim that grant-maintained schools are cheaper than sixth-form colleges and just Pounds 165 more expensive than further education colleges.

The associations also disagree with the Government's argument that vocational qualifications are cheaper via youth training. They say the Department for Education and Employment's study, The Public Funding Costs of Education and Training for 16-19 Year Olds in England, has failed to take account of the differences between GNVQ and NVQ programmes.

In a joint response the six, which include the Association for Colleges, the Colleges Employers Forum and the Association of Principals of Colleges, want the National Audit Office, the Audit Commission or the National Foundation for Educational Research to step in.

Government statistics on comparative costs of 16 to 19-year-old education have already been changed three times, with grant-maintained schools switching from second to first position in terms of cost, and back again.

The study compares the cost of full-time tuition for three A-levels in schools and FE colleges, advanced GNVQs in FE colleges and NVQ3s in Youth Training. It says: "Until an agreed methodology is in place, there will remain room for suspicion as to government intentions." Its suggested figures per student are: GM school sixth forms Pounds 6,445; LEA school sixth forms Pounds 6,385; sixth-form colleges Pounds 6,245; FE colleges Pounds 5,640. This compares to the government's for sixth-form colleges Pounds 6,530, GM schools Pounds 6,445, LEA sixth forms Pounds 6,385 and FE colleges Pounds 6,180.

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