To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of (a) per-pupil funding for sixth form students and (b) funding for sixth form students' maintenance costs.
We are investing an extra £400 million in 16 to 19 education next year to ensure we are building on the skills that our country needs. We will increase the base rate of funding by 4.7%, from £4,000 to £4,188 for the academic year 2020/21. Over and above the base rate rise, this extra spending also includes new resources for high value and high cost courses and funding to support those on level 3 programmes to continue to study English and maths where needed. This is the biggest injection of new money into 16 to 19 education in a single year since 2010 - with funding increasing faster for 16 to 19 than in 5 to 16 schooling – and will mean a significant increase in the average level of funding per student. We will of course continue to look at the needs of 16 to 19 education in future Spending Reviews.
Maintenance costs are not required or provided for sixth form students in the same way as they are required, for example, for students in higher education, because most 16 to 19 year olds live at home. However, financial support is available for disadvantaged students through discretionary bursaries to help with costs such as travel. In addition, bursaries of up to £1,200 a year are available for students in defined vulnerable groups (mainly those living independently or without family financial support), and free meals are also available for disadvantaged students.
We are changing how we allocate the 16 to 19 discretionary bursary fund from the academic year 2020/2021. We will be using up-to-date patterns of disadvantage, and the expected level of support required for travel and industry placement costs, as the basis for funding. This will create institution level allocations that are better matched to student need across the country. There is also financial support available for young parents’ childcare costs and for essential accommodation for financially disadvantaged students where they need to live away from home to participate in a study programme or to attend one of the designated institutions delivering specialist provision.
This funding and financial support has contributed to the current record high proportion of 16 and 17 year olds who are participating in education or apprenticeships since consistent records began.