A leading politician is backing a national week of action that is celebrating the positive impact of further education in transforming lives and calling for fair funding.
As part of the Love Our Colleges campaign, colleges across the country are hosting events for MPs, staff, students and local businesses from May 13th to 17th.
The Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Angela Rayner MP, visited The Sheffield College, on Granville Road, this week to lend her support to the campaign.
Councillor Olivia Blake, Deputy Leader of Sheffield City Council, and Councillor Abtisam Mohamed, newly appointed to this year’s Cabinet as the Portfolio Holder for Education and Skills, also attended and met staff and students to discuss the campaign, funding, skills and apprenticeships.
Angela Rayner MP said:
“I’m delighted to have visited The Sheffield College during Love Our Colleges week to see first hand the hard work that both staff and students are putting in and the great results they’re getting.”
She added: “Institutions like The Sheffield College will be critical to both ensuring that we have the skills we need for the modern economy and that everyone can access education by right and benefit from education for its own sake as well.”
The Love Our Colleges campaign highlights the vital role that colleges play in local communities and the economy, and the need for proper investment and fair pay for staff.
The week of action from May 13th to 17th is calling for sustainable investment in the sector in the run up to the government’s comprehensive spending review in October.
Angela Foulkes, Chief Executive and Principal of The Sheffield College, said:
“Colleges contribute so much to the fabric of people’s lives, the economy and social mobility by helping students go further in their studies, employment and careers, and enabling employers to get the skills they need for growth. It is vital that the further education sector receives proper investment and funding is increased to sustainable levels.”
Further education colleges across England educate and train 2.2 million people every year improving the country’s productivity and reducing the nation’s growing skills gaps.
According to the Association of Colleges, funding nationally has dropped by around 30% from 2009 to 2019. This has resulted in significant cuts to adult education during the last decade and college teachers earning, on average, £7,000 less than school teachers.
Current funding levels in England also mean that most young people receive around 16 hours of teaching and support per week. This compares to approximately 25 to 30 hours per week for students in high performing education systems in other countries.
Additional funding would help colleges to recruit and retain more specialist teachers and support staff, maintain academic standards and support all students to develop literacy and numeracy skills.
David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, said:
“The financial viability of colleges is as hard as it has ever been. This is despite the fact they are embedded within their local community and work with employers to provide solutions to people of all ages. If we want to achieve success locally, regionally and nationally, we must ensure they’re properly supported.”
The Love Our Colleges campaign is a partnership between the Association of Colleges, National Union of Students, Association of College and School Leaders, University and Colleges Union, Unison, GMB, TUC and National Education Union.