Further Education

Part of Opposition Day — [10th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 5:35 pm on 18th November 2015.

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Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes Chair, Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art, Chair, Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art 5:35 pm, 18th November 2015

My hon. Friend is of course right. The best colleges are working with business and schools to make sure that when young people go into the world of work they are ready for it.

My constituency has no 16-19 provision in the state sector, which means that every single teenager is exported somewhere else to go to college. But that is great, because it gives me an opportunity to talk to college principals across the region. I may stray on to the territory of some of my neighbours today, but I have a broad perspective from many college leaders across the south of Hampshire. We are lucky: we have great sixth-form and FE colleges that have worked over the years to make sure that they are as efficient as possible. In many cases, they are as large as possible—they have worked hard to get more students through their doors—but big is not always best. What is crucial is that we have a range of colleges that provide different offers. The transition from school to college can be difficult for some young people, and we should not assume that just because a college is large, efficient and getting great results it will give the best outcomes for every student.

Peter Symonds college, which I was lucky enough to attend—a few years ago now—and Barton Peveril, two of the biggest colleges in the area, have brilliant academic records. They are some of the best in the country, but we also have Richard Taunton college in Southampton on the edge of my constituency, which is far smaller. It has only 1,250 students and it has specialised in attracting a broad and diverse range of students, many of whom have come from other institutions and found their home in a much smaller college, taking three years to complete their A-level education.