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Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Sixth forms

Proposals by ELWa, the Post-16 training and education Quango for Wales, to introduce a unified funding system across Wales has led to fears for the future of sixth forms. That is because it is cheaper to provide A-level education at FE colleges and the clear thrust of the proposals are to move to that sort of provision. At the same time new regulations are being proposed that will give ELWa the same powers as local Councils to reorganise or close down sixth forms. The Welsh Assembly Government say that there is no hidden agenda and have accused me of misunderstanding the proposals because local Councils will still be able to reorganise their own sixth form provision if they wish. The fact is that this is irrelevant. Once these regulations are in force, ELWa will have the means to implement their own funding system by ordering schools to stop putting on A-level tuition and they will be able to do this independently of the Local Education Authority even though they have not been elected by anybody. Sometimes the boring and seemingly innocuous regulations we are asked to vote on at the Assembly do have a sting in the tale.

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