Staff and students from Myerscough College will lobby Parliament as part of an awareness campaign to highlight the funding challenges faced by the further education sector.
Colleges Week takes place from Monday 15th October to Friday 19th October, and is part of the ‘Love Our Colleges’ campaign, which will see colleges across the country hosting events to showcase the brilliant work they do, day in and day out, as well as a national rally in Westminster.
On Wednesday, October 17th, a group staff and students, led by Chief Executive and Principal, Alison Robinson, will lend support to the London rally, which will highlight the brilliant work and the fantastic staff that make it all possible within colleges, and will call 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.
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. 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.
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.
‘’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 an average 30% funding cut, whilst costs have increased dramatically. This has resulted in a drastic drop in learning opportunities for adults with 50% less students, fewer hours of teaching and support for young people, and teacher pay at less than 80% of 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.
‘’This campaign is the first time there has been a joint agreement to lobby for change across colleges and unions. The time is right for change and we need to support the lobbying call. I have written to our local MP, Ben Wallace, as part of the lobbying campaign and have asked to meet him in Parliament during the lobbying day.
‘’Many colleges are now in financial crisis and sometimes we have to take a stand for what we believe in.’’
In addition to the rally, the College is staging a VIP Careers Event, on Thursday, October 18th, that will see representatives from Myerscough showcase the College to Careers Advisors from across the sector and from a range of other education providers, to highlight the work done by the College’s Schools Liaison Team, including the opportunity to experience a behind the scenes tour, hear the latest Myerscough news, meet departmental management teams and enjoy the fabulous campus and facilities.
Guests at the event will enjoy an impressive, behind the scenes tour of student life, teaching facilities and learning resources, and gain an insight into the range of land-based and sport study programmes, career options and support services for students that Myerscough offers.
There will also be an opportunity to network with industry experts and other guests attending the event.
David Hughes, Chief Executive, Association of Colleges, said: “Every single day colleges like Myerscough provide a world class education and transform the lives of millions of people.
‘’Colleges Week is an opportunity to celebrate the brilliant things that go on and a chance to showcase the brilliant staff that make it possible. It is simple, if we want a world-class education system then we need to properly invest in it.”
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by Dave Salmon