Every day I see the difference further education makes which is what drives me to keep championing the need to stop the funding cuts that are affecting it so deeply. When I see others with the same drive it makes me hopeful that this vital part of our education system will continue for future generations, writes Julie Richards, principal of Chesterfield College.
Local MP, Toby Perkins, recently asked Theresa May during Prime Minister’s Question Time why “further education is worth so little to this Government”. He highlighted the transformational role Chesterfield College has played for his son and others in his constituency.
Despite the fact that UK college funding has fallen by 30% in the last 10 years and funding for adult education has had a cut of 62% in the same period, which has seen enrolments for adults drop from 5.1 million to 1.9 million, the prime minister responded by saying that her Government had been the ones to protect further education. The response to her answer in parliament, across the media and social media was one of dismay and frustration.
Toby Perkins has joined other MPs and employers across the country who have taken time to understand the role their local colleges play in their communities in a bid to protect them. It is thanks to these people that we have a voice to help policy makers take notice. Clearly, there is a lot of work to be done but I am hopeful that by working together we can make the change that is needed to give colleges fair funding.
The funding we get has to go further and further each year. On top of the basic need to ensure our students are achieving by providing quality teaching, there is an increasing demand to provide additional support for a range of issues from mental health to improving maths and English skills.
Colleges are producing the next generation of engineers, electricians, technology experts, healthcare professionals and many other professions which we rely on day to day. We give people the chance to get the career they want and employers the skills they need. Our economy and our community need skilled people. If funding cuts continue, colleges won’t be able to meet demand and people won’t be able to get the skills they need.
If you want to stand up for fair funding for colleges you can help by signing this petition. CLICK HERE