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Fair pay must be addressed to deliver on English and maths, warns AoC

13 February 2024


David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, said:

“Today’s 1.89% increase in 16-18 funding rates for the 2024-25 academic year equates to an extra £90 extra per student and is in line with increases to school budgets. Since September 2019, despite an 18% increase in 16-18 funding, the real terms impact is a fall of 10%. This is due to the consumer price index rise of 22% and the requirement to increase teaching time from 540 to 580 hours per year.

“The drop in funding coincides with a time in which colleges are finding it increasingly hard to attract and retain staff. This is particularly difficult in certain subjects such as maths, construction, engineering. The pay gap between college lecturers and school teachers remains at about £9,000 and to industry the gap can be much wider, particularly in skills shortage areas. The government recognised it needed to help with that gap last year but this announcement suggests it has no plan for this year on how to address it. Colleges now need the government to devise a long term plan on pay, with more investment.

"It is very disappointing to see the wholly unhelpful new conditions of funding which accompany the extra funding, announced last year by the Prime Minister, for students needing to resit GCSE English and maths at college. The extra money was seen as recognition of the tough job colleges have to support students who have struggled at school, and as a down payment for introducing the new Advanced British Standard. But expecting colleges to be able to find new staff to deliver an extra 100 hours of English and 140 hours of maths teaching is simply unrealistic, particularly when schools who are paying so much more cannot find those teachers themselves.

“Around 200,000 students resit a GCSE or Functional Skills in English and/or maths in FE colleges. The extra hours would require about 800 extra maths teachers, and 400 extra English teachers. That won’t happen unless fair pay is addressed as a matter of urgency."