Gloucestershire College Principal accompanies MP Richard Graham in calling on the Government for better FE funding
Conservative MP Richard Graham and Labour MP Nic Dakin have co-authored a letter to Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond seeking more funding for Further Education with the support of 165 MPs from four parties represented in Parliament.
Richard Graham handed the letter over to the Chancellor and reiterated the main point that ‘while government policy has protected the incomes of schools and universities, colleges have been dealt an average funding cut of 30% over the last ten years. The Chancellor’s departmental spending review is a chance to announce an above inflation increase which would boost skills, productivity and social mobility.’
Accompanying Richard on his call was Gloucestershire College‘s Principal Matthew Burgess who stressed several issues, including the additional costs of teachers’ pensions.
He said: “It was a great opportunity to meet the Chancellor and talk about the fantastic work that staff at our College are doing - enabling social mobility, raising skills levels and productivity and preparing people for their future careers. It was fantastic to talk to our local MP Richard Graham about the leading position of the College nationally in its apprenticeship programme, which resulted in our Beacon Award last year, as well as our work with partners across Gloucestershire on initiatives such as regeneration in the Forest of Dean and the Cyber Park in Cheltenham. It was also important to highlight the impact of the funding squeeze on the FE sector, which has seen the largest of cuts of any element of education since 2010, and how this is impacting both on the range of courses we can offer at each of our campuses, as well as challenges in recruiting staff particularly in key shortage areas like STEM subjects.
In these challenging times, it is heartening to see our local MP, Richard Graham, taking a lead role in raising the issues at a national level in such a visible way. I would like to thank him for all his work on this.
We look forward to the spending review to see if the future landscape for Further Education is improved.”
MP Nic Dakin said: “From my years as a college principal, I know how important this issue is. Our colleges are the engines of social mobility, transforming the prospects of our young people and delivering the skills our local businesses want. It is vital that the Government invests in our colleges.”
The Association of Colleges, Chief Executive, David Hughes noted that ‘There is now very strong cross-Party support for the 2.2 million people who study and train in FE colleges each year. It’s vital the government helps those tasked with helping to solve the skills gap.’
This is not the first time Gloucestershire College have supported the cause of better funding to the FE sector. Principal Matthew Burgess is an active campaigner with the college taking part in the ‘Love Our Colleges’ campaign led by the Association of Colleges (AoC) last October, attending the national lobby of Parliament with two coaches of staff and students.
The ‘Love Our Colleges’ campaign is a partnership between Association of Colleges (AoC), National Union of Students (NUS), Association of College and School Leaders (ASCL), University and Colleges Union (UCU), Unison, GMB, TUC and National Education Union (NEU).
Whether it’s through top-class technical education, basic skills or lifelong learning, colleges help people of all ages and backgrounds to make the most of their talents and ambitions. Rooted in local communities, they are crucial in driving social mobility and providing the skills to boost local and regional economies.
However, there is currently a reduction in education funding once a student turns 16 – whether they are in a school sixth form or a college. ‘Love Our Colleges’ is calling on the Government to increase 16-19 funding by 5% a year for 5 years. It is also asking the Department for Education to provide exceptional funding, ring-fenced for teacher pay.