Act now before education system is beyond breaking point: colleges warn

19 Jul 2019

The Education Select Committee have released a report ('A Ten-Year Plan For School and College Funding') pushing government to create a ten-year plan, with the correct levels of funding for colleges and schools, including reversing the decade of cuts to further education. Report recommendations include:

  • urgently addressing the under-funding in further education by increasing the base rate, with it then rising in line with inflation increasing 
  • high needs funding for special educational needs and disabilities to address a projected £1.2 billion deficit
  • extending the Pupil Premium to provide for 16 to 19-year-olds

Association of Colleges is the national voice for colleges, representing around 95% of England’s further education colleges.

Julian Gravatt, Deputy Chief Executive, Association of Colleges said:

“The Education Select Committee has warned that there is a real chance that the school and education system will be stretched “beyond breaking point”. This is no longer a debate – it’s a fact - and it needs to be addressed urgently, before it is too late. Failing to act on the Education Select Committee’s recommendations risks phenomenal damage to our country.  

This report lays out some strong short-to-medium term actions that can be taken, including an increase in the further education base rate. Colleges have been consistently clear that this is the only way that they are going to be able to continue to deliver the strong technical, vocational and academic education that people need and employers are crying out for. Government has already committed to doing this for those who study T Levels – it is perverse that we are on course to create a two-tier system where some students are deemed worthy of adequate funding whilst others aren’t. Increasing the base rate across the board must happen and colleges, unions, and employer groups will continue to campaign loudly until it does. 

Extending the Pupil Premium for 16-19 year olds would also help to close the gap and would be welcomed by colleges, as would apprenticeship transport subsidies.

Whoever wins the keys to Number 10 needs to put this report at the top of his reading list. Without a robust technical, vocational and academic education system, it is difficult to see how they will be able to deliver the strong economy and thriving communities the country so desperately needs.

There can be no more delays or misleading narratives about record investment. The time to act is now.”