From education to employment

AoC Pleased with Education Secretary’s renewed commitment to seeking better funding for colleges and to support better pay for Educators

David Hughes

Gillian Keegan has responded to two recent letters sent to Gillian Keegan by the AoC on funding for English and Maths, and a second on the concerns over the pay gap between educators in FE and teachers in Schools.

The government wants to work with the further education sector on a plan for English maths in colleges, the Education Secretary has said.

In a letter sent to AoC Chief Executive David Hughes on 6 March, Gillian Keegan says she recognises the issues AoC raised on behalf of its members and commits to working collaboratively with AoC and the sector to help young people progress.

The government recently announced that alongside additional funding, colleges and schools will be required to deliver a set number of hours for English and maths teaching and that the current 5% tolerance which allows for some students not to take a resit will be removed. AoC raised strong concerns from college leaders about the impact this could have on young people and the almost impossible challenge it presents to colleges because pay is not sufficient to attract and retain the lecturers to teach extra hours of English and maths.

The pay gap between school and college teachers stands at £9,000 and schools themselves are struggling to recruit, particularly for maths. Until colleges are funded to close that gap, pay will remain a major barrier to supporting more young people to progress in their learning. The letter helpfully acknowledges this, with Ms Keegan saying: “… we agree that the investment we make inherently supports the sector to invest in its people, and I agree that this is a priority.”

The letter also praises colleges for “the outstanding work” they do for English and maths students and proposes a joint working group with AoC which would “co-create a plan for delivery and support improved English and maths outcomes”. Ms Keegan says she has asked officials to engage with AoC and others to “understand the delivery challenges you set out and explore with you how we can best tackle them.”

David Hughes said: “I am pleased that the government has listened to the serious concerns we raised about the new condition of funding and has committed to working with AoC going forward. We will work hard with DfE and colleges to find better ways than simply specifying hours of teaching to ensure that every young person gets the support and teaching they need.

AoC Pleased with Education Secretary’s renewed commitment to seeking better funding for colleges to support better pay

“I am particularly pleased to see the Education Secretary’s renewed commitment to seeking better funding for colleges to support better pay. I would like, though, a stronger commitment to close the pay gap between school and FE teachers, because until that happens, colleges will always struggle to attract and keep hold of the lecturers they need.”

“Every college leader wants the best future for their students and English and maths competences are vital parts of that. However, we know that the young people arriving at colleges without good GCSEs can often bring challenges with them. Many have suffered from mental health challenges or been poor attenders for many years, others are lacking motivation to learn English and maths because they are not viewed as relevant. We need to learn more about the funding, policies and approaches needed to support colleges to meet those challenges rather than simply specifying more teaching hours.

“The results of our snap survey* of English and maths lecturers are unsurprising, because they show how much commitment there is amongst college staff. We will harness that commitment and expertise in partnership with DfE officials to move this agenda forward.“

In a snap survey* of staff at the AoC English and maths conference (held on 27 February), 91% of English and maths teachers said they thought the GCSE resit policy needed reform, and 69% called on the government to suspend the new rules.

An overwhelming majority, 98%, said that the government’s recent announcement on the condition of GCSE English and maths funding will increase recruitment and retention challenges. Around 73% said they believed there needed to be a national recruitment strategy, rather than finding the staff without any additional support.

More than half of teachers (56%) believe that new government rules on funding will increase the number of young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET).

*59 responses.

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