YOUNG people in Stroud have missed out on nearly £300,000 of education funding, after the government clawed back money allocated for 16 to 19 year olds.

Now Stroud’s Labour MP David Drew has written to the Chancellor Philip Hammond ahead of next week’s Budget, urging him to increase funding for sixth form students.

Mr Drew is backing the Support Our Sixth-formers campaign to secure an increase in funding of £200 per sixth form student in the forthcoming Budget.

The increase could be partially funded by money already allocated for young people’s education.

Colin Belford, headteacher at Archway School in Stroud, is also supporting the campaign.

“The pressures on school budgets, such as unfunded rises in staff costs, have been rising for a number of years. The basic per student funding is too low and the one which has the biggest impact,” said Mr Belford.

“I have a real concern that it is not enough to ensure that sixth form students have the same opportunities that students in the past had.”

Despite the funding crisis in schools and colleges, the government has actually underspent the sixth form education budget in each of the past three years, because the number of young people in education was lower than forecast.

But campaigners, and Mr Drew, say that because funding for 16 to 19-year-olds is already stretched, the underspend should have been re-allocated and invested in young people.

The underspend means that schools and colleges in Gloucestershire lost out on a total of £3,972,270 originally allocated for young people’s education, over these 3 years.

“At a time when education is in dire need of additional investment, I believe that schools and colleges should at least receive all the funding that the government has set aside to educate sixth form students,” said Mr Drew.

“Stroud young people would have had an additional £300,000 if the underspend had not been clawed back elsewhere. And across Gloucestershire our youngsters have lost out on £4 million.

“We should be investing in our young people. College budgets are already stretched to breaking point.”

Stroud sixth formers have missed out on £298,913, with Stroud High School and Marling School worst hit, losing around £70,000 each. Archway has missed out on £50,962, and Rednock £55,962. Colleges have also been badly hit. Cirencester College has lost £1 million and Gloucestershire College almost £1.4 million.

Mr Drew’s letter says that three cuts to sixth form funding since 2011, combined with ongoing cost increases have had a negative impact on the education of students in schools and colleges.

Mr Drew points to a recent survey from the Sixth Form Colleges Association which showed 50% of schools and colleges have dropped courses in modern foreign languages as a result of funding pressures.

In addition, two thirds of schools and colleges have reduced student support services or extra-curricular activities – with significant cuts to mental health support, employability skills and careers advice.