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Reprieve for Kent schools and colleges facing cash cuts

Kent schools and colleges have been spared budget cuts that could have led to students being turned away from courses this September because of a funding blunder.

The Government has announced a cash injection that is expected to make up a £3.4million shortfall across Kent’s 86 secondary schools with sixth forms. Extra cash will also be given to colleges facing the same problems.

Chancellor Alastair Darling has announced sixth forms across the country are to receive an extra £250million to fund places for students from this September.

Schools and colleges in Kent were facing a cash shortfall because of a blunder by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), which had under-estimated the demand for places on courses.

The extra government investment will mean that all 16 and 17-year-olds who want to stay on in education can, according to Mr Darling.

Kent County Council education chiefs have welcomed the news. Cllr Mark Dance (Con), cabinet member for schools, said: "Had we not got this money, it would have increased the numbers of young people not participating in any kind of education or training [so-called NEETS] and would also have affected further education colleges. It is a bit of good news."

He also said the funding injection was also likely to break the deadlock surrounding the long-awaited plans for the Ashford Learning Campus. The £50million scheme for a "multi-university" catering for 14,000 full and part-time students, has been dogged by delays.

John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "I am very pleased that the chancellor made the decision to allocate additional funding for post-16 places.

"This more than covers the projected shortfall for next year. Schools and colleges will be able to give places to all the students they have recruited and allocate some additional places for this September."

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