To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made, if any, of the extent to which learners have progressed into school sixth forms at a greater rate than in prior years in 2021 due to the increases in the (1) number, and (2) proportion, of 16–17 year old learners meeting minimum academic requirements for sixth form entry.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of changes in enrolments at all levels of study in further education by people aged 16 to 17 between 2019 and 2021.
Institutions decide their academic requirements for sixth form entry.
Trends in take-up of post-16 education suggest that the increased number of young people attaining higher GCSE grades in 2020 and 2021 has contributed to a greater proportion of young people attending school sixth forms and sixth form colleges rather than general further education (FE) colleges. Higher numbers of young people attaining grade 4 or above in GCSE English and maths are likely to have resulted in a lower number of young people re-taking those examinations because of the way the requirement on institutions operates, however, we recognise that some students with these grades will still require support for their future attainment.
These trends in GCSE grades could have contributed to an increase in study at level 3 and a decrease in study at level 2 at FE colleges. Between 2019 and 2021 the number of 16-17-year-olds in FE colleges studying a level 2 qualification dropped 8.7% and the number studying a level 3 qualification increased 14.7%. This represents a 1.6% fall in the proportion of the age 16-17 population studying level 2 and a 1.4% increase in the proportion of the age 16-17 population studying level 3.
Funding for the academic year 2022/23 is based on student numbers in the academic year 2021/22. Provisional data (which excludes sixth form colleges) suggests that FE colleges had in aggregate a fall of just over 1% in their 16-19 students in 2021/22 compared with the previous year, which has had an impact on funding. However, the higher funding rates mean that despite this slight fall in student numbers, colleges will see a significant increase in funding in 2022/23. We expect to see only a small proportion of colleges with a cash reduction in 16-19 funding in 2022/23 compared with 2021/22 when allocations are published. Each year we look to put in place exceptional in-year growth funding, subject to affordability, to help providers that see a significant increase in students, and we will be looking carefully at what can be put in place to help colleges which see an increase in students in 2022/23.