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Colleges provide opportunities for more people

19 June 2019

By Kyle Tagg AoC President Ian Ashman has highlighted further education as the best route for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Following his speech at the AoC Annual Conference last month, Mr Ashman claimed that colleges act as a ‘big funnel’ in terms of providing opportunities for more people. Speaking at the event, Mr Ashman said: “Around 5% of the UK population go to private school. 50% of people in Oxbridge went to private school. 70% of people who are in top job sectors like law and banking went to private school and then Oxbridge. It’s a narrowing funnel. “The great thing about colleges is that we act as a big funnel. We offer a really wide range of things in comparison.” Having formerly been the principal of Hackney College in London, Mr Ashman has experienced first-hand how colleges can provide opportunity for disadvantaged students. “In my own college in Hackney, nearly half of our students had nobody who was working in their household. They couldn’t just ask parents for work experience because it didn’t exist for them. “People in this situation often don’t know what skills they have, so the advantage of colleges is the breadth of choice and the scope for students to try things. This may include choices which they haven’t had the opportunity to succeed at before.” As well as the range of choices on offer, Mr Ashman also believes the versatility of colleges means they can provide new opportunities for the highest number of people. “I think the other thing is that it allows people a fresh start. For some people that will be a second chance at doing A levels, but for others it’s about learning to read and write. “We are a sector that are willing to take people and place them at the level which is right for them.”