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In an unprecedented move, the leaders of every general further education college in England have joined forces to write an open letter to the Chancellor and Secretary of State for Education urging them to “answer the calls from business” and respond to the “challenges of technological change and Brexit” by urgently investing in the country’s technical and vocational education system by implementing the main recommendations of the government’s recent Post-18 Education Review (the Augar Review).
The 203 leaders are responsible for institutions that educate and train 2 million people each year, employing 180,000 staff and they have a combined turnover of £6 billion per annum.
The Augar Review called for, amongst other things, an end to the 17.5% cut in education funding for 18-year olds, support so that everybody, regardless of age, to achieve to at least level three, and a rebalancing of the traditional post-18 educational landscape.
Key extracts from the letter:
“[The Post-18 Review] understands that employers and communities need more high quality technical and professional education and training, industry-standard facilities, expert staff and the unique curriculum that colleges already provide. It sees colleges as the key vehicle for the flexible, local delivery of national strategies, supporting industrial policy, productivity, skills development and genuine social equity. It clearly acknowledges that all this requires real investment.”
“In many respects the Augar Review represents a wider emerging consensus across England. We are sure that you will agree with us and other key stakeholders that further education colleges have been neglected, and that there is now a growing appreciation of their unique role, value and potential. What we now need are decisions and commitments: with your political leadership, support and resolve, colleges will be able to build on what they already do to reach more employers and more adults and make the differences our economy and society need. “
Bev Robinson OBE, member of the Independent Panel and co-author of the Augar Review said:
“The government’s response to the outcomes of the well-received Augar Review is arguably a watershed moment for the British government. Choosing to enact the recommendations would demonstrate the government’s commitment to the much-needed skills revolution which our country needs, which industry is crying out for and which will promote social equity for all adults, not just the 50% as it is now.”
Anthony Bravo, Principal and Chief Executive of Basingstoke College of Technology (BCoT) Group said:
“I am pleased to be joining forces with other college leaders and support the letter to the Chancellor and Secretary of State. I welcome the recommendations of the government’s recent Post-18 Education Review (The Augar Review) and encourage the government to further recognise the value of technical and vocational education”.