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Failure to invest in colleges is a failure to invest in the country, AoC warns

20 May 2019

The Association of Colleges is calling for the Government to do more after the Department for Education recently agreed a pay raise for school staff whilst rejecting calls from education leaders and staff for emergency investment for college staff. In response, David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, said: “The last couple of weeks have seen the annual celebration of hundreds of thousands of students achieving in their exams. These successes do not happen by accident but because of the hard work and dedication of every member of staff in colleges and schools up and down the country. Staff who support their students to succeed – often against the odds. “The Department for Education recently announced a 3.5% pay raise for school teachers. We welcome this – teachers across all parts of the sector do brilliant things and deserve recognition and reward for doing so. However, college staff also deserve the same recognition and reward – especially after a decade of austerity and during a recruitment and retention crisis. They are already paid an average of £7,000 less than their counterparts in schools – and this gap is now set to widen. “We have been working to persuade Government to increase further education funding to allow colleges to at least match the school teacher pay award as well as to invest in their students and have supported officials to gather the evidence they need to understand the impact of the funding gap. Sadly, this call has now been rejected, with an indication that the issues and the evidence will be considered in next year’s Spending Review. “As a result, we recognise the need to make more people aware of the challenges colleges face and how this is unfair for students and staff. We want to make sure that the Government hears how important colleges are from college students, staff and leaders, from employers, parents and supporters. Over the coming weeks we will be loudly and proudly making the case for a sector that transforms the life chances of 2.2 million people across England each year. “As we get closer to leaving the European Union, colleges have never been more important. They are unique institutions offering education and training opportunities that help local communities and businesses to thrive and the national economy to grow. Failure to invest in colleges is a failure to invest in the country.”