I do not think that anyone in this House would dispute the fact that colleges play a crucial role in providing employability skills for our young people. The cuts in funding for 16 to 19-year-olds’ education are leading to cuts in courses that are key to productivity. That is a serious issue that must be addressed. This sector must be appropriately funded.
This morning I met Chris Keates from the NASUWT, and she painted a disturbing picture of post-16 education in England. She told me of her concern that the sector has been entirely unprotected and was specifically targeted for cuts in the 2010 comprehensive spending review, that 72% of sixth-form colleges have been forced to drop key courses as a result of the cuts to date, and that the area reviews are causing distress and disillusionment to staff in colleges.