Students offered £500 cash incentive to attend Doncaster sixth form

Pauline Hagen, Principal of NEW College, Pontefract.
Pauline Hagen, Principal of NEW College, Pontefract.

High-achieving students in Doncaster are being offered £500 in a bid to lure them to a new free school sixth-form.

New College Pontefract applied to the Department for Education (DfE) last month to set up New College Doncaster, which would open in 2016.

The website for the new sixth-form advertised an ‘academic scholarship’, which stated: “If you are predicted to achieve more than 5 A grades in your GCSEs, we will offer you the opportunity to receive £500 and a place in our Excellence Academy to support your post-16 education.”

Stephen Gorard, professor of education and public policy at Durham University, criticised the incentive and said last week: “I have never heard of this before and I can’t see that it would be an ethical use of funding.”

Principal Pauline Hagan defended the scheme and said: “This would be means tested and offered to those students who need it most.

“We are giving prospective students the opportunity to apply and estimate it would go to only about 10 students so to say it would be a waste of public money is wrong.

“Schemes such as this are nothing new, they are in place in colleges across the country.”

She added the sixth form would be for 1,200-pupils aged 16 to 19 and they hope to build it as close to the town centre as possible but do not have any definite sites as yet.

The DfE is due to confirm by next summer whether or not the project will go ahead.