Friday 18-11-2016 - 09:00
NUS National President Malia Bouattia joins key organisations in demanding that the government commits to funding for further education and the teaching workforce ahead of next week’s autumn statement.
In a joint letter to Phillip Hammond, chancellor of the exchequer, bodies representing further education staff, students and providers have called for extra investment to ‘develop a strong and vibrant further education sector which can cater to different people’s needs and aspirations’.
The letter is co-signed by NUS, the University and College Union, the Association of Colleges, the Learning and Work Institute, Unison, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, Voice, GMB and Unionlearn.
It notes that over a million adult learners, 15,000 teachers and similar numbers of support staff have been lost from further education since 2009, and calls on government to ‘take a strategic approach to strengthening local further education’ by replacing this lost capacity to open up more learning opportunities.
You can read the letter in full below.
Earlier this year, the Prime Minister set out an intention to make Britain a country that helps everyone reach their potential, regardless of background.
Equipping people with the skills they need to thrive must lie at the heart of these efforts, especially as the UK deals with whatever economic changes Brexit will bring. If everyone is to access the learning they require, the government must develop a strong and vibrant further education sector which can cater to different people's needs and aspirations.
We know that further education transforms lives and that colleges make an invaluable contribution to their local communities, but too many people are missing out on the learning they need. Cuts to public funding have seen courses closed, as well as the loss of over a million adult learners, 15,000 experienced teachers and similar numbers of support staff from the further education sector since 2009.
If we are to build our nation's skills, we must work to replace this lost capacity and give more learners the opportunity to fulfil their potential. The government needs to take a strategic approach to strengthening local further education, and work to attract talented teachers and support staff to work in our colleges and adult learning providers.
There's a hard economic case for expanding further education - every £1 of government investment in further education and skills returns around £20 to the economy. So if this month’s Autumn Statement is to match the Prime Minister's ambition for social mobility and a strong economy, it could include few better investments than further education.
That’s why we, on behalf of further education staff, students and providers, are asking you to rebuild capacity in adult education and skills by opening up more local learning opportunities, funding extra teachers and support staff, and putting investment in the transformative opportunities provided by further education at the heart of your approach.
Sally Hunt, General Secretary, University and College Union
David Hughes, Chief Executive, Association of Colleges
Malia Bouattia, National President, National Union of Students
Stephen Evans, Chief Executive, Learning and Work Institute
Dave Prentis, General Secretary, Unison
Mary Bousted, General Secretary, Association of Teachers and Lecturers
Deborah Lawson, General Secretary, Voice
Sharon Holder, National Official, GMB
Liz Rees, Director, Unionlearn