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 5:35 pm, 18th November 2015

I commend the hon. Gentleman’s work as chairman of the all-party parliamentary group for sixth-form colleges.

To conclude, we all know that the average funding for 14 to 16-year-olds is £5,600 a year, but that it drops to £3,600 after 16. That means a reduction in contact time with teachers. That might work for young people preparing for university and learning about independent study, gaining skills that they are going to use in higher education, but it will not work for those with special educational needs or those who require additional support. It will not necessarily work for the students at Brockenhurst college in the New Forest, which has worked so hard to increase access to further education and keep young people with special educational needs in college and in education. For them, unsupervised study is simply not a realistic prospect.

I know that the Minister has probably heard more than enough from me, and will be preparing to respond with facts on funding and by telling us that we all have to learn to live within our means. I get that, I really do. I am not opposed to the area-based reviews, and having seen the issues at Totton college just outside my constituency, I know how important it is that young people have confidence in their college’s ability to provide them with a qualification at the end of their course, provided that they have worked hard enough to get it. I know that there is logic in exploring whether stronger partnerships or collaborative and strategic thinking might further enhance the effectiveness of the college system. However, how about a more level playing field for colleges that are already doing an outstanding job providing strong programmes of study and preparing young people for university, for apprenticeships and for the world of work?

Several hon. Members rose