MPs set to debate role of colleges in a skills-led recovery in Parliament during Colleges Week

13 Oct 2020

On Tuesday 20 October, AoC has secured an adjournment debate in Westminster Hall on The role of colleges in a skills-led recovery from COVID-19  will take place at 4:30pm – 5:30pm. Raised by Peter Aldous, Conservative Member of Parliament for Waveney and Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Further Education and Lifelong Learning, the debate will happen on the second day of Colleges Week 2020. As colleges engage with MPs locally throughout the week, we will showcase nationally the strong engagement and support from MPs from all parties. It comes at an important time given the Prime Minister’s recent speech on the importance of colleges in the rebuild and retraining agenda.

As well as the upcoming Westminster Hall Debate, an Early Day Motion has been tabled by Chair of the Education Select Committee, Robert Halfon MP, to “recognise the unique role that colleges play in supporting people, employers and communities…”. As part of Colleges Week activity, colleges will be encouraging their MPs attend the Westminster Hall debate, and to sign EDM #948 to show their support for colleges.

Speaking ahead of the debate next week, AoC’s Chief Executive, David Hughes said:

“Colleges Week this year is all about the economic importance of colleges locally, regionally, and nationally. As MPs are engaging with their local colleges, this Westminster Hall debate will shine a spotlight on the unique role that colleges play in supporting people, employers and communities to thrive and the central role they will play in rebuilding the economy.

I hope MPs prioritise Tuesday’s debate and the EDM because it’s a great opportunity to build on the Prime Minister’s speech about skills at Exeter College which was a great first step to building a post-16 education and skills system we can all be proud of. This debate will help highlight what else needs to change through the forthcoming white paper and the level of investment needed in colleges to be able to deliver for our country, our communities and our people.”

Full Early Day Motion text:

“That this House recognises the unique role that colleges play in supporting people, employers and communities to thrive and central role in rebuilding the economy; endorses the vision of the Independent Commission on the College of the Future for a strategic and expanded role for colleges in empowering people with opportunities for lifelong learning, boosting business productivity and innovation, and strengthening every community; welcomes the Government's Lifetime Skills Guarantee to allow adults to retrain and reskill through fully-funded technical college courses and the £1.5 billion capital fund to repair and upgrade college estates; but notes with concern that the recent National Audit Office report into the financial sustainability of colleges in England cites a 7 per cent real-terms decrease in funding per learner aged 16 to 19 between 2013-14 and 2018-19; further notes with concern that adult funding was cut by 40 per cent in the first half of the last decade and has been fixed in cash terms since then; recognises that colleges can only play their full role through long-term sustainable funding and a long term strategy which enjoys cross-party support; and calls on the Government to celebrate and support colleges by ensuring that colleges are empowered to deliver their full potential for people, productivity and place through adequate and sustainable funding and a new trust-based relationship with colleges seen as key strategic partners.”