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Suffolk schools will be hit hard by plans to cut funding for 18-year-olds- MP

PUBLISHED: 14:44 29 January 2014 | UPDATED: 15:57 29 January 2014

Local MP Peter Aldous meets the youngsters at Beccles Free School.

Local MP Peter Aldous meets the youngsters at Beccles Free School.

©Archant 2014

Suffolk’s underachieving education system will be hit hard by plans to slash funding for students who are 18 at the start of the school year, Lowestoft’s MP has said.

Peter Aldous said students in the town often had to resit GSCEs, or were following vocational courses, meaning the towns two colleges would be disproportionately hit by plans to cut 17.5pc per full-time student aged 18 in September.

Funding per student would be reduced from £4,000 to £3,300, and Mr Aldous said in the Westminster Hall debate that the government had failed to highlight the fact that the impact of the policy was concentrated in specific locations, where it will hit certain—often vulnerable—communities hard.

He said: “Schools in Suffolk are not currently doing as well as they should be. Lowestoft college and Lowestoft sixth-form college are doing important work to address the situation, which often involves students staying on in education or training for an extra year.

“A high proportion of the students who have become disengaged while at school either need to resit GCSEs or are following a vocational course.”

He told MPs that at Lowestoft College 25pc of the 16 to 18-year-old students are aged 18 at the start of each academic year, because many pursue a variety of different paths that may include, for instance, a year at level two followed by two years at level three.

All post-16 mainstream education in Lowestoft is provided in the two colleges and there are no other schools or colleges where students can take A-levels.

“Lowestoft college and Lowestoft sixth-form college are relatively small. Although they are performing extremely well in challenging circumstances, they are not as well placed as larger establishments to withstand the impact of such income reductions,” he said.

He also said that in Lowestoft there is a higher than average percentage of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds living in deprived areas.

“There is a real worry that disadvantaged students will be hit the hardest as they are the ones who take longer to finish courses. That could have a negative knock-on effect on the number of NEETs.”

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