Myerscough College is once again supporting an awareness campaign to highlight the funding challenges faced by the further education sector.
Today is the start of Colleges Week, part of the wider ‘Love Our Colleges’ campaign, which will see colleges across the country showcasing the brilliant work they do, day in and day out, against a backdrop of years of lack of investment in the sector, and why long-term term investment is crucial for the future.
The campaign calls on the government for better investment in colleges, and fair pay for college staff. Specifically, to increase funding for 16-19 year-old provision by 5% a year for five years, and ask the Department for Education to provide exceptional funding, ring-fenced for teacher pay.
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. The campaign further highlights the fact that young people are being short-changed compared with their counterparts in other countries and compared with previous generations, in terms of matters including hours of teaching and support, the choice they have and the enrichment they are offered.
Myerscough’s Chief Executive and Principal, Alison Robinson said: ‘’Our Myerscough College staff transform lives – they help people make the most of their talents and ambitions and drive social mobility; they help businesses improve productivity and drive economic growth; they are rooted in and committed to their communities and drive tolerance and well-being.
‘’ The government has committed to colleges in recent months but this must be followed by sustainable, long term funding. We are calling on them to ensure it remains a priority going into next year’s long-term spending budget.
‘’Myerscough is at the heart of its community, working with businesses and helping to educate and train many young people and adult learners each year. Despite this, ourselves and other colleges in the country have had to deal with an average of 30% cut to its funding over the last decade.
‘’Colleges are an essential part of England’s education system – educating and training 2.2 million people every year. Over the last decade, colleges have had to deal with significant funding cuts, whilst costs have increased dramatically. This has resulted in a drop in learning opportunities for adults, fewer hours of teaching and support for young people, and teacher pay less than schools, and support staff in many colleges seeing no increase in pay for several years.
‘’When a young person leaves school at 16 and goes to college the funding for their education drops by 24% despite the much larger investment needed in technical vocational equipment in colleges to deliver the curriculum. This situation is not sustainable and ultimately impacts upon staff morale, staff retention, students, businesses, communities and the wider economy.
‘’That is why unions, students and colleges are coming together to request fair funding because colleges such as Myerscough matter.
‘’Many colleges are now in financial crisis and sometimes we have to take a stand for what we believe in.’’
David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, said: “The £400m funding boost announced in the spending review and the Secretary of State’s speech at the Conservative Party conference showed that the government is committed to investing in further education and skills. However there are many funding and policy challenges to grapple with to ensure colleges can thrive in the long term. Now more than ever we need highly skilled, well-educated workforces to deliver for our economy and country.
“Colleges Week this year is about celebrating the amazing work colleges do, educating 2.2 million people every year, including more than 600,000 16 to 18-year-olds. Colleges have been neglected in recent years and proper funding for adult education is still urgently needed. This week is about making our voices heard and campaigning with partners to make sure colleges continue to be a serious political, economic and social priority.”
by Dave Salmon