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Colleges welcome Labour’s commitment to “skills for all”

11 October 2023

The Association of Colleges has welcomed commitments from Labour’s shadow education secretary to ensure education not only prepares learners for good jobs and careers, but also to enjoy life, be confident and carry a love of learning throughout their lives. In short to become lifelong learners, able to adapt and thrive in a changing world.

AoC also strongly supports Labour’s promise to boost maths learning across all ages and bring “leadership and ambition” to the country’s skills system.

In her speech to Labour’s party conference this morning, Bridget Phillipson pledged reform of the delivery of maths, starting in early years provision and primary schools. She also re-stated pledges from Labour leader Keir Starmer yesterday to support existing colleges with the investment to be Technical Excellence Colleges, right across the country and make sure skills are “not just for each of us, but for all of us”.

Ms Phillipson said that under a Labour government, a new body, called Skills England, would bring “leadership and ambition” to England’s skills system, a growth and skills levy would drive opportunity in every workplace, and the generations ahead would be trained to build the “greener, safer, healthier future we need”.

Commenting on Bridget Phillipson’s speech, AoC chief executive David Hughes, said:

"It is great to see Labour put colleges and the opportunities they provide right at the centre of their plans for not just a better education system, but also to tackle the challenges we face around productivity and preparing for a greener, healthier future.

“Throughout this conference, the Labour Party has stressed it is committed to addressing the achievement gaps in education. Shadow ministers have been clear that this will go right across every stage of education from early years, through schools, into colleges and universities.

“They are also clear on what they want the outcomes to be, both in terms of accessing good jobs and fair pay, but also in terms of being positive and confident about lifelong learning, able to adapt, face up to challenges and thrive as the world and work changes. 

Ms Phillipson is right to point out that many young people reach post-16 education without the level of numeracy that will allow them to thrive in their chosen path, and we support plans to tackle that right across all parts of the education system, starting in the early years.

 “This announcement is a good first step in that ambition and should make a difference. If Labour come into power, we would want to see this ambition flow through into post-16 education to ensure young people can break out of the cycle of repeated English and maths resits many currently face.

“Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson has said that the curriculum review for 16 to 19 year-olds will need to address the inequalities in that phase, and work out how we can better support the third of 16 year-olds who are not achieving good GCSEs in English and maths. We look forward to working with her and the wider education system to design a system that deliver for all ”