Funded by the Nuffield Foundation
First, the number of 16- and 17-year-olds is rising rapidly as a result of a population boom moving through the education system. Second, the impact of the pandemic remains significant, with changes in young people’s education decisions and the effects of lost learning. Third, the government is overhauling the post-16 qualification landscape, which means that many providers are having to change the courses they offer students.
Spending per student over time
Figure 6.1 shows spending per student aged 16–18 in school sixth forms, further education (FE) colleges and sixth-form colleges in each academic year from 2013–14 onwards. In this graph and the remaining analysis in this section, we consider funding allocated per student aged 16–18, as opposed to actual amounts of spending on students, which could be higher or lower depending on how schools and colleges allocate funding for different stages of education.
In each year, spending per student aged 16–18 is noticeably higher in FE colleges. In the academic year 2022–23, FE colleges spent roughly £6,800 per pupil, compared with £5,600 in school sixth forms and £5,300 in sixth-form colleges. This is because students in FE colleges are more likely to study vocational qualifications and are more likely to come from deprived backgrounds, both of which attract higher levels of funding.