203 college leaders write to the Chancellor and Secretary of State

27 Jun 2019

In an unprecedented move, the leaders of every general further education college in England have joined forces to write an open letter to the Chancellor and Secretary of State for Education urging them to “answer the calls from business” and respond to the “challenges of technological change and Brexit”  by urgently investing in the country’s technical and vocational education system by implementing the main recommendations of the government’s recent Post-18 Education Review (the Augar Review). 

The 203 leaders are responsible for institutions that educate and train 2 million people each year, employing 180,000 staff and they have a combined turnover of £6 billion per annum.

The Augar Review called for, amongst other things, an end to the 17.5% cut in education funding for 18-year-olds, support so that everybody, regardless of age, to achieve to at least level three, and a rebalancing of the traditional post-18 educational landscape.

Key extracts from the letter:

“[The Post-18 Review] understands that employers and communities need more high quality technical and professional education and training, industry standard facilities, expert staff and the unique curriculum that colleges already provide.  It sees colleges as the key vehicle for the flexible, local delivery of national strategies, supporting industrial policy, productivity, skills development and genuine social equity.  It clearly acknowledges that all this requires real investment.”

“In many respects the Augar Review represents a wider emerging consensus across England. We are sure that you will agree with us and other key stakeholders that further education colleges have been neglected, and that there is now a growing appreciation of their unique role, value and potential. What we now need are decisions and commitments: with your political leadership, support and resolve, colleges will be able to build on what they already do to reach more employers and more adults and make the differences our economy and society need. “

Bev Robinson OBE, member of the Independent Panel and co-author of the Augar Review said:

“The government’s response to the outcomes of the well-received Augar Review is arguably a watershed moment for the British government.  Choosing to enact the recommendations would demonstrate the government’s commitment to the much-needed skills revolution which our country needs, which industry is crying out for and which will promote social equity for all adults, not just the 50% as it is now.”

Alun Francis, Principal and Chief Executive, Oldham College said:

“The technical and professional education which our colleges specialise in, is a hidden strength of this country.  There is some astonishingly good provision, but the system overall has been held back by a clear view of its role backed by a serious investment plan. 

Implementing the Augar Review will genuinely change lives, communities and the economy for a generation. Now is the time to act.”

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

“It is extraordinary to have every leader in every general further education college in the country collaborate like this. But then these are extraordinary times. These college leaders are uniquely placed at the hearts of their communities, working closely with local, national and international business, supporting individuals to get on in life, and driving the social mobility agenda.

Government needs to listen to them if they’ve got any chance of tackling the major issues this country faces, now and in the future.

Lowell Williams, CEO Dudley College of Technology said:

"There are many examples of colleges in the UK delivering technical learning which is simply amazing. But these examples are too often the exception and not the rule.  On the eve of the fourth industrial revolution we have the opportunity to make really great technical learning the norm in every UK college. The Augar Review clearly shows us how. Implementing the Augar Review should be the main focus for the government's skills agenda."

Shelagh Legrave, CEO and Principal, Chichester College Group said:

“The Augar report comes at a critical time for further education institutions and recognises the central role which Colleges are playing in providing a skilled workforce to businesses.  It is crucial that the report’s key recommendations for further education are implemented to address the shortfall in technicians in the UK economy”

The letter in full:

As college leaders, we are pleased that the Augar Review understands the importance of a more coherent tertiary system.  It makes many positive recommendations that will support the economy by upskilling and reskilling the adult population of England, through investment in more flexible higher, technical and professional education and training, answering calls from business and in direct response to the pending challenges of technological change and Brexit.

The report and the recommendations are based on sound analysis of the current state of further and higher education in England. It also sets out the compelling need for a fairer society which works for everyone, based on a strong economy in which businesses can be even more productive. It recognises the role that further education colleges must have in aligning the skills system with the needs of the economy, and in delivering high quality alternatives to traditional three-year residential bachelor's degrees as well as enabling more adults to progress to intermediate skill levels.  It understands that employers and communities need more high quality technical and professional education and training, industry standard facilities, expert staff and the unique curriculum that colleges already provide.  It sees colleges as the key vehicle for the flexible, local delivery of national strategies, supporting industrial policy, productivity, skills development and genuine social equity.  It clearly acknowledges that all this requires real investment.

In many respects, the Augar Review represents a wider emerging consensus across England. We are sure that you will agree with us and other key stakeholders that further education colleges have been neglected, and that there is now a growing appreciation of their unique role, value and potential. What we now need are decisions and commitments:  with your political leadership, support and resolve, colleges will be able to build on what they already do to reach more employers and more adults and make the differences our economy and society need.

Our concern is that, having waited so long, the key weakness of the Augar Review might prove to be its timing.  It has emerged at a moment when its insights and proposals might easily be lost.  That is why we are urging you to make the investment in upskilling and reskilling the whole of the adult population in England a priority in your spending decisions this autumn, and to implement the Augar recommendations promptly.

We stand ready, individually and collectively to deliver; eager to meet the challenges and excited at the prospect of helping to achieve a fairer society and successful future for our nation.

The 203 Signatories:

ESTABLISHMENT

PRINCIPAL/CEO

 

Abingdon & Witney College

Di Batchelor

Activate Learning

Sally Dicketts

Ada National College for Digital Skills

Mark Smith

Askham Bryan College

Tim Whitaker

Birmingham Met College

Cliff Hall

Barking and Dagenham College

Yvonne Kelly

Barnet & Southgate College

Darren Mephan

Barnsley College

Yiannis Koursis

Basingstoke College of Technology

Anthony Bravo

Bath College

Laurel Penrose

Bedford College

Ian Pryce

Berkshire College of Agriculture

Gillian May

Bexhill College

Karen Hucker

Bishop Auckland College

Natalie Davison-Terranova

Bishop Burton College

Bill Meredith

Blackburn College

Fazal Dad

Blackpool and The Fylde College

Bev Robinson

Bolton College

Bill Webster

Boston College

Jo Maher

Bournemouth and Poole College

Diane Grannell

Bradford College

Chris Webb

Bridgwater and Taunton College

Andy Berry

Brighton Hove and Sussex Sixth Form College

William Baldwin

Brockenhurst College

Di Roberts

Brooklands College

Christine Rickettes

Brooksby Melton College

Dawn Whitemore

Buckinghamshire College Group

Karen Mitchell

Burnley College

Karen Buchanan

Burton & South Derbyshire College

Dawn Ward

Bury College

Charlie Deane

Buxton and Leek College

Len Tildsley

Calderdale College

John Rees

Cambridge Regional College

Mark Robertson

Capel Manor College

Malcolm Goodwin

Capital City College Group (WKCIC)

  • City & Islington College
  • College of Haringey, Enfield & N E London
  • Westminster Kingsway College

Roy O’Shaughnessy

Andy Forbes

Kurt Hintz (Interim Principal)

 

Kim Caplin

Carmel College

Mike Hill

Central Bedfordshire College

Ali Hadawi

Chelmsford College

Andy Sparks

Cheshire College South & West

Jasbir Dhesi

Chesterfield College

Julie Richards

Chichester College Group

Shelagh Legrave

Cirencester College

Jim Grant

City College Norwich and Paston College

Corrienne Peasgood

City College Plymouth

Jackie Grubb

City Lit

Mark Malcomson

City of Bristol College

Richard Harris

City of Wolverhampton College

Malcolm Cowgill

Colchester Institute

Alison Andreas

College of West Anglia

David Pomfret

Coventry College

Gill Banks

Craven College

Joanne Sherrington

Croydon College

Caireen Mitchell

Darlington College

Kate Roe

Derby College Group

Mandi Stravino

Derwentside College

Chris Todd

DN Colleges Group

  • Doncaster College
  • North Lindsey College

Anne Tyrrell

Kathryn Brentnall

Mick Lochran

Dudley College of Technology

Lowell Williams

Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College

Karen Redhead

East Coast College

Stuart Rimmer

East Durham College

Suzanne Duncan

East Kent College Group

Graham Razey

East Riding College

Mike Welsh

East Surrey College Group

Jayne Dickinson

East Sussex College

Clive Cooke

Eastleigh College

Jan Edrich

Easton & Otley College

Jane Townsend

Exeter College

John Laramy

Fareham College

Andrew Kaye

Farnborough College of Technology

Virginia Barrett

Fircroft College of Adult Education

Mel Lenehan

Furness College

Andrew Wren

Gateshead College

Judith Doyle

Gloucestershire College

Matthew Burgess

Grantham College

Paul Deane

Greater Brighton Metropolitan College

Nick Juba

Hadlow College

Graham Morley

Halesowen College

David Williams

Harlow College Group

  • Harlow College
  • Stansted Airport College

Karen Spencer

Hartlepool College

Darren Hankey

Hartpury University and Hartpury College

Russell Marchant

Havant & South Downs College

Mike Gaston

Havering Sixth Form College

Paul Wakeling

HCUC Group

  • Harrow College
  • Uxbridge College

Laraine Smith

Pat Carvalho

 

Heart of Worcestershire College

Stuart Laverick

Hereward College

Paul Cook

Herefordshire, Ludlow and North Shropshire College

Ian Peake

Hertford Regional College

Tony Medhurst

Highbury College Portsmouth

Stella Mbubaegbu

Holy Cross College

Daveth Frost

Hopwood Hall College

Julia Heap

Hugh Baird College

Yana Williams

Hull College

Michelle Swithenbank

Isle of Wight College

Debbie Lavin

Itchen Sixth Form College

Alex Scott

Joseph Chamberlain Sixth Form College

Tony Day

Kendal College

Kelvin Nash

Kensington & Chelsea College

Andy Cole

King Edward V1 College

Uly Lyons

Kingston Maurward College

Luke Rake

Kirklees College

Marie Gilluley

Lakes College

Chris Nattress

Lancaster & Morecambe College

Wes Johnson

Leeds City College

Colin Booth

Leeds College of Building

Derek Whitehead

Leicester College

Verity Hancock

Lincoln College Group

  • Gainsborough College
  • Lincoln College
  • Newark College

Gary Headland

London South East College’s Group

Sam Parrett OBE

Loughborough College

John Doherty

LTE

  • The Manchester College
  • UCEN Manchester

John Thornhill

Lisa O’Loughlin

Michael Walsh

Macclesfield College

Rachel Kay

Mid Kent College

Simon Cook

Middlesborough College

Zoe A Lewis

Milton Keynes College

Julie Mills OBE

Moulton College

Ann Turner

Myerscough College

Alison Robinson

National College for High Speed Rail

Clair Mowbray

NCG

  • Carlisle College
  • Kidderminster College
  • Lewisham College
  • Newcastle College
  • Newcastle Sixth Form College
  • Southwark College
  • West Lancashire College

Chris Payne

Grant Glendinning

Andy Dobson

Asfa Sohail

Tony Lewin

Gerard Garvey

Annette Cast

Denise Williamson

Nelson & Colne College

Amanda Melton

New City College

Gerry McDonald

New College Durham

John Widdowson

New College Stamford

Janet Meenaghan

New College Swindon

Carole Kitching

Newbury College

Iain Wolloff

Newcastle and Stafford Colleges Group

Karen Dobson

Newham College London

Paul Stephen

NESCOT

Frances Rutter

Northampton College

Pat Brennan-Barrett

North Hertfordshire College

Kit Davies

North Kent College

David Gleed

North Warwickshire & South Leicestershire College

Marion Plant

Nottingham College

John van de Laarschot

Oaklands College

Zoe Hancock

Oldham College

Alun Francis

Peterborough Regional College

Rachel Nicholls

Petroc

Diane Dimond

Plumpton College

Jeremy Kerswell

Preston’s College

Lis Smith

Reaseheath College

Marcus Clinton

Richard Huish College

John Abbott

Richmond & Hillcroft Adult & Community College

Gabe Flint

Richmond Upon Thames College

Robin Ghurbhurun

Riverside College, Halton

Mary Murphy

RNN Group

  • Rotherham College and North Notts College
  • Dearne College

Jason Austin

Runshaw College

Simon Partington

Salford City College

Michael Sheehan

Sandwell College

Graham Pennington

Scarborough TEC

Ann Hardy

Selby College

Phil Sayles

Shipley College

Nav Chohan

Shrewsbury Colleges Group

James Staniforth

Solihull College & University Centre

John Callaghan

South and City College Birmingham

Mike Hopkins

South Devon College

Stephen Criddle

South Essex College

Angela O’Donoghue

South Gloucestershire and Stroud College

Sara-Jane Watkins

South Staffordshire College

Claire Boliver

South Thames College Group

  • South Thames College
  • Carshalton College
  • Kingston College

Peter Mayhew-Smith

Southampton City College

Sarah Stannard

Southport College

John Clarke

Sparsholt College Group

  • Andover College

Tim Jackson

SK Group

  • St Helens College
  • Knowsley College

Monica Box

 

Stanmore College

Sarbdip Noonan

Stephenson College

Nigel Leigh

Stockton Riverside College Group

Phil Cook

Stoke on Trent College

Denise Brown

Strode College

Katy Quinn

Suffolk New College

Viv Gillespie

Sunderland/Northumberland College

Ellen Thinnesen

Swindon College

Steve Wain

Tameside College

Jackie Moores

Telford College

Graham Guest

The City of Liverpool College

Elaine Bowker

The College of Richard Collyer

Sally Bromley

The Cornwall College Group

Elaine McMahon

The Northern College

Yultan Mellor

The Sheffield College

Angela Foulkes

The TEC Partnership Group (formerly the Grimsby Institute Group)

  • Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education
  • Scarborough TEC

Gill Alton

 

Debra Gray

 

Ann Hardy

The Windsor Forest Colleges Group

  • Langley College
  • Strode’s College
  • Windsor College

Kate Webb

Trafford College Group

  • Trafford College
  • Stockport College

Lesley Davies

Truro and Penwith College

David Walrond

Tyne Coast College

Dr Lyndsey Whiterod CBE

Unified Seevic and Palmers College

Dan Pearson

United Colleges Group

  • City of Westminster College
  • College of North West London

Keith Cowell

Vison West Nottinghamshire College

Andrew Cropley

Wakefield College

Sam Wright

Walsall College

Jatinder Sharma

Waltham Forest College

Joy Kettyle

Warrington & Vale Royal College

Nichola Newton

WCG/Warwickshire College Group

Angela Joyce

WEA

Ruth Spellman

West Herts College

Gill Wogan

West Kent and Ashford College

Graham Morley

Weston College

Dr Paul Phillips CBE

West Suffolk College

Nikos Savvas

Weymouth College

Nigel Evans

West Thames College

Tracy Aust

Wigan and Leigh College

Anna Dawe

Wiltshire College & University Centre

Amanda Burnside

Wirral Met College

Sue Higginson

WMC – The Camden College

Helen Hammond

Yeovil College

John Evans

York College

Lee Probert