Sunday, 22 September 2019

Principal Satwant Deol on the education funding march

Principal Satwant Deol on the education funding march

ON Saturday, the Government announced it would invest £400 million in 16 to 18 education from 2020/21.

This will increase the funding rate for sixth-formers by around £200 per student. This is certainly a move in the right direction but it is just a start.

Research commissioned from the London School of Economics by the Raise the Rate campaign has shown that the rate needs to increase by at least £760 per student to ensure that colleges and sixth forms can continue to deliver a high quality education.

In further education, we already receive less funding per student than schools. The education of all young people is, of course, critically important but it cannot make sense that funding drops by around 15 per cent when a young person reaches the age of 16.

Amanda Spielman, Her Majesty’s chief inspector, addressed this in a letter to the Public Accounts Committee on October 30, 2018, where she wrote: “I have expressed my concerns before, based on our inspection evidence, that the real-term cuts to further education sector funding are affecting the sustainability and quality of provision.

“My strong view is that the Government should use the forthcoming spending review to increase the base rate for 16 to 18 funding.”

Over the last 10 years, sixth-form colleges have had to deal with an average funding cut of 22 per cent while at the same time costs have increased dramatically.

Further education is the only part of the education budget to have experienced year-on-year cuts since 2010.

Coping with the cuts of the past decade has meant some very creative thinking and difficult choices. We have lost learning opportunities for 16- to 18-year-old students, music and German in particular. There have been considerable sacrifices by our dedicated staff, who have not had a pay rise for two years and have seen some well-loved courses close.

Despite this, The Henley College has continued to be a place where young people thrive and this year we have seen more students than ever succeed in winning Oxbridge places.

Some key members of this Government, including the Chancellor and the Education Secretary, are products of further education. They know the value of it and the breadth of learning opportunities it offers.

The autumn spending review in 2020 is an opportunity for the Government to make good its promises and increase funding further to ensure our students get what they deserve and need to truly excel in a global community.

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