Now is the time to use the power of government to restore fairness for further education. As all who work in colleges know, since 2009 further education has been subjected to cut after cut –and these cuts have gone far beyond anything endured by other sectors of education. In effect,these cuts have hurt the communities that colleges serve and have penalised college staff who work hard day in and day out to provide transformative teaching and learning experiences. According to a recent report by the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS), funding for teaching and learning in adult further education was chopped by 14% in real terms between 2010/11 and 2015/16. Whilst, the Adult Skills Budget funding, which covers all education for people older than 19, declined by 29% in cash terms in the same period. The cuts need to be viewed in a context in which further education continues to provide education for around 40% of young people leaving school (IFS 2018). They enrol in college, seeking a new and inspiring learning environment. They also often need nurturing and supporting to refresh their spoilt identities as learners as many feel themselves to be ‘not good enough’. It is the belief, commitment and passion of further education teachers that helps turn this situation around.
It is grossly unfair then, that these young people should receive less funding per head than their peers in VIth forms and schools. Action and change is now needed if further education is to survive. Government needs to stop hiding behind the rhetoric of ‘excellence’ and ‘raising standards’, start viewing further education as a vital component in the nation’s educational offer and PUT THE MONEY ON THE TABLE.
To read the full UCU transforming lives and communities think piece access the link below: