THE Chancellor's latest round of funding cuts will make some wince.

But for the leaders of sixth forms colleges across the country, it is nothing new.

For the past six years, funding for sixth form colleges has been cut year after year and the reductions will continue until 2020 - at least.

A number of sixth form college teachers from across the country, who are members of the National Union of Teachers, went out on strike yesterday in protest to what they describe as "inadequate funding".

They marched in London and called on the Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan to increase funding levels.

The Government, in response, said it recognised the importance of investing in education.

Government policies on education are always controversial.

In recent years, funding for 11 to 16-year-old has been protected.

However, cash allocations for students aged between 16 and 19 has declined year after year and sixth form colleges and schools have had to tighten their belts to withstand the declining fiscal support.

Ian MacNaughton is the principal of Colchester's biggest sixth form educator, Colchester Sixth Form College.

It is one of the most successful sixth form colleges in the country and educates 3,000 students on A level and International Baccalaureate courses.

And it is partially down to its size it has managed to withstand the impact of the funding cuts.

Mr MacNaughton, who has been the college's principal since 1997, said: "The average funding level for every 11 to 16-year-old in secondary school education is about £5,500.

"However, for 16 to 19-year-olds, it is £4,000 per student.

"The effect has been on all sixth forms - in Colchester and around the country. Everyone is affected.

"As a result, we have had, and will continue to have, lower resources.

"We are less affected than many, firstly because we are bigger and we benefit from economies of scale.

"Secondly, the Government has made some concessions regarding VAT.

"Colleges had paid VAT although schools and academies don't. Now sixth form colleges are zero rated.

"The Government stopped that inequality which means we haven't felt the influence of the funding cuts so significantly."

Prudence, efficiency and expertise has meant the college has not had to lose any of its 60 A level courses nor its IB.

It has also been able to retain its class sizes which average at about 17.

Schools with sixth forms have also been affected.

And necessity has become the mother of invention at the Colne Community School and College in Brightlingsea.

Principal Nardeep Sharma said the school had had to come up with alternative ways of providing a variety of courses for its 200 sixth form students.

He said: "We have lost hundreds of thousands of pounds because of the way the Government calculates sixth form funding.

"The cuts have been shocking. We have less money for our sixth form students than we had five years ago and it is only going to get worse."

Mr Sharma said some classes, including design technology, had been cut because they were no longer viable.

But he said the school had worked in conjunction with others to provide a variety of A level subjects based centrally at the University of Essex.

He said: "One teacher can then provide a class for say 30 students from a number of schools.

"We have done with subjects including Law, History of Art, French and Geography."

There are 140 students in the sixth form at Thurstable School in Tiptree and head teacher Miles Bacon said efforts had been taken to ensure classes continued.

He said: "The crucial difference is funding for 16 to 19-year-olds has not been protected.

"We have not had to cut any courses but we have had to go into our reserves to support the sixth form.

"In any large organisation, you try to build up reserves so you are financially resilient.

"Classes range from about four or five in a class to about 20 and the contact time reflects the ratio of students."