Cornwall’s two further education colleges – Truro and Penwith College and Cornwall College – are joining national voices calling on the Government for an increase in 16-19 education funding.
The colleges are supporting Colleges Week (October 15-19) which is part of a UK-wide ‘Love Our Colleges’ campaign. The campaign sees colleges across the country hosting events to showcase the vital contributions they make, day in and day out, to the prospects and success of individuals and communities. There is a national lobby of Parliament on Wednesday October 17.
Whether it’s through technical education, basic skills or lifelong learning, colleges help people of all ages and backgrounds to make the most of their talents and ambitions. Rooted in local communities, they are seen as crucial in driving social mobility and providing the skills to boost local and regional economies.
However, there is currently a sharp reduction in education funding, now a drop of around 20%, once a student turns 16 – whether they are in a school sixth form or a college. ‘Love Our Colleges’ is calling on Government to increase 16-19 funding by 5% a year for five years. It is also asking Department for Education to provide exceptional funding, ring-fenced for teacher pay.
David Walrond, principal at Truro and Penwith College, said: “Our young people are losing out in terms of the investment in their skills compared to other competitor economies and compared with the investment in previous generations.
“Many young people struggle to understand how older generations would deny them the life-chances they themselves had. Funding cuts have meant the hours of teaching and support and the opportunities available have all been reduced. The crisis now worsens as the huge drop in college funding makes it impossible to recruit and retain enough specialist skills subject staff. You cannot boost skills for productivity without the staff to teach them. We hope that during Colleges Week, more people grasp that, as well the moral and social arguments for funding colleges fairly, there are straightforward economic ones.”
Raoul Humphreys, principal & chief executive of The Cornwall College Group, added: “The Government’s Industrial Strategy highlights the needs to invest in skills for young people and to create highly skilled jobs in every region. This will not happen without a sharp increase in the funding available to teach young people in our colleges. Colleges are catalysts for skills training in our communities.”
The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is also backing the colleges’ call for greater funding, recognising the “crucial” work colleges do in delivering vital skills and talent needed by businesses.
Chair, Mark Duddridge, said: “We are pleased to support National Colleges Week and to recognise and endorse the crucial work colleges do in delivering the vital skills and talent that our businesses need to grow and prosper.”