Half of sixth forms forced to drop modern languages

As reported by The Guardian, half of sixth forms in the country have been forced to drop modern language subjects due to a lack of funding

Following the news that uptake of foreign language is as its lowest level in 20 years, research by the Sixth Form Colleges Association (SFCA) has found that half of sixth forms have now been forced to drop A-levels in modern languages due to lack of higher education funding.

Fifty-seven per cent of respondents said German courses had been axed, 38% have dropped Spanish, 35% had ditched French and 15%, Italian.

School and college leaders say funding cuts and cost increases in post-16 education make it impossible to offer courses for just a small number of pupils.

STEM topics are also suffering; more than a third (38%) of those surveyed have dropped STEM courses for the same reasons.

The SFCA says the survey, which is based on responses from a sample of 271 schools and colleges, highlights the damaging impact of funding cuts on sixth form education.

Bill Watkin, SFCA chief executive, said: “Today’s report makes it absolutely clear that the government must increase the funding rate for sixth form students in this year’s spending review.

“If we are to keep key subjects on the timetable, offer a wide range of extra-curricular experiences, and provide the essential support activities that our young people need and deserve, the government must raise the rate to at least £4,760 per student, per year.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, added: “Government funding for 16 to 18 education is set at a level which is totally inadequate.

“The grim reality is that this policy decision is restricting the options and support available to young people in the state sector and it is impeding efforts to improve social mobility.”

The Department for Education responded: “We have protected the base rate of funding for 16- to 19-year-olds until 2020. We will also be providing £500m every year, from 2020 to support the delivery of the new gold standard T levels – which some sixth form colleges will be offering.

“However, we recognise that the financial position for sixth form colleges is challenging and are looking carefully at the needs of all colleges in the run-up to the next spending review.”

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