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The great brain drain

Created on 09/07/2019 @ 13:25
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Around £1.4 million is being lost to Powys schools’ sixth forms due to the volume of teenagers leaving the county to continue their education elsewhere.

A meeting of the learning and skills committee heard that it’s possible that more than 500 former Powys school pupils were at this moment, being educated in neighbouring counties.

As part of the first stages of the reform of post-16 education process a survey has been held asking students what they think of education in Powys?

School transformation Marianne Evans said: “The report set out our ambition for post -16 in Powys and the scope of the review, focusses on our school sixth forms, nothing wider at this stage.

“There is a clear understanding that the system needs to be reviewed.”

Ms Evans described the current situation in Powys’ sixth forms as a “vicious” circle.

Ms Evans said: “We’ve had a decrease of learner numbers for a few years now.

“Because it’s grant funded, this effects the funding we get from (the) Welsh Government.

“Which in turn constrains the level of choice and number of subjects we can deliver.

“In our view this decreases the numbers again as learners choose to go to other institutions where there is wider provision and on it goes in a downward spiral. The current system is broken.”

Since 2010 figures show that sixth forms have dropped from 1,445 in 2010 to 978 this year.

Funding from 2013/2014 was £6,535,551 million and this has dropped to £4,440,636 million in 2018/19.

Ms Evans added that the work had started on collecting data about the lost students.

Ms Evans, said: “421 are leaving the authority to these colleges, 251 go to Shrewsbury college alone. This is a conservative estimate.

“We think there’s 500 as we don’t have their  figures yet for Hereford sixth form college, Merthyr college and Neath campus NPTC (Neath Port Talbot College and Coleg Powys).

“This has an impact on funding, we are losing at least £1.4 million in grant funding.”

Head of Schools, Alec Clark, said: “There is a common theme coming through.

“If you look at the funding from 13/14, we had £6.5 million. Now we have around £4.5 million.

“So a 33 per cent cut in funding and we have seen a cut in numbers. And we’re still trying to give a quality offer in our sixth forms.

“Clearly you can’t carry on like that, so there are two options. Find £2.5 million to go back to the funding of 2013/14. Or you go to a different way of operational delivery, that is just as plain as the nose on your face.”

The decision to carry on with the reorganisation process was supposed to be taken at a cabinet meeting on July 30, but has been postponed until September due to purdah rules surrounding the by-election in Brecon and Radnor on August 1.

Numbers of Powys residents at: 

·      Shrewsbury sixth form college – 251

·      Hereford Arts college – 23

·      Cardiff and Vale college – 16

·      Christ college, Brecon  – 43

·      The Marches school, Oswestry – 11

·      Reaseheath college (Nantwich) – 30

·      Hereford sixth form college – not available yet

·      Merthyr college – not available yet

·      NPTC, Neath campus – not available yet

·      Coleg Cambria Llysfasi (near Ruthin) – 47

By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter
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