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AoC responds to the Conservative manifesto

11 June 2024

Conservative manifesto

David Hughes, Chief Executive, Association of Colleges, said: “I’m pleased that the Conservative manifesto confirms their commitment to increase the hours of teaching that young people get in their education to ensure that they get the very best start in life. In England, 16 to 18-year-olds only benefit from around 15 hours per week of teaching time, compared with 25 to 30 hours in many other OECD countries. Stepping up that investment would make an enormous impact for young people and for their resilience, confidence, skills and potential for the future.

“The challenge to the Conservative party is how quickly they would prioritise funding for the Advanced British Standard and enrichment activity in colleges before directing new funding on a new national service scheme which has less clear potential benefits. We also would like to have seen more emphasis on targeting new apprenticeships starts at those wanting to enter the workforce, rather than those who want to complete a degree.

“There are major changes needed to ensure the post-16 system is effective, efficient and fair, and we have made it very clear that there are five things we believe the next government must act upon in its first term. We need a national skills strategy and a comprehensive offer for everyone under the age of 21 to ensure no one is left behind. The pay gap between school and college lecturers must be closed, with a starting salary of £35,000 introduced in colleges across the country, there needs to be 250,000 apprenticeship start per year for young people and adults in priority sectors, and training to ensure that there are 100,000 more people of all ages a year with the skills needed in digital, health and net zero.”

A full A-Z of further education can be found here, and a cheat sheet of key policies and issues in FE can be found here.