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The Advanced British Standard must be backed by FE investment, say AoC

30th January 2024

Investment

If the Prime Minister wants to realise his vision for the Advanced British Standard (ABS), he must back investment in further education colleges, David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, has said.

Ahead of the spring budget on 6 March, Mr Hughes wrote to Rishi Sunak and said that he was right to be pushing for a broader, more rounded education for every young person at every level of learning.

However, he warned that three changes must be made to college funding for this vision to become a reality.

A plan to close the pay gap – colleges cater for more than half of all 16 to 18-year-olds in education, and yet their lecturers are paid on average £9,000 per year less than school teachers. This pay gap cannot persist if the ABS is to be a success.

A tax cut for colleges – colleges pay around £200m per year on VAT, unlike schools and academies where VAT is reimbursed. The result is that college students have less resource spent on them than their peers in schools.

Extend funding for tuition support – the tuition funding introduced in recognition of the impact of Covid-19 on young people ends this summer. Extending it, at the cost of around £100m per year, would help ensure those young people with the greatest need for support are able to progress and achieve.

In the letter Mr Hughes said: "We are engaging closely with officials in the Department for Education to help shape the thinking, the design and the delivery of what you have rightly said should be a 10-year change programme. We will continue to support over the years ahead, working with college leaders to ensure its success.

“The changes we will need to see over the coming years are exciting and complex and it is clear that there are many steps towards achieving the vision.”

The full letter can be read here.

For further information, please contact Kate Parker, Press and PR Manager, on Kate.Parker@aoc.co.uk