Yesterday, I was at an all-day seminar with the Education Select Committee in Coventry, where we had the opportunity to meet the heads of primary and secondary schools, the regional schools commissioner and local government education officials. It was clear to me that our education providers understood the importance of working together and learning from one another and that they understood the link between education and jobs. I would therefore like to highlight one part of the motion before the House and to challenge it. The motion states that
“many colleges are…no longer offering courses in subjects key to our country’s competitiveness”.
I want to focus on that assumption, because I think it undermines the valuable work that our sixth-form colleges are doing.
I want to highlight three very different further education colleges that serve my constituency and that are doing extremely valuable work. First, we have the Cambridge regional college, which has more than 5,500 apprentices in training and works with more than 800 local employers to provide apprenticeships. Yesterday, it held a science, technology, engineering and maths—or STEM—seminar for year 10 and 11 students from the village colleges around my constituency. Secondly, we have the Cambridge university technical college, which opened in September 2014 and which specialises in biomedical and environmental science and technology. It teaches core GCSEs alongside technical qualifications. Thirdly, there is Hills Road, a highly academic sixth-form college that specialises in STEM subjects. In its A-level provision this year, it had 1,000 students in year 13, 92% of whom got grades between A* and C. For the 22nd successive year, it is at the head of the sixth-form college A-level league table for points per entry. The motion is therefore wrong to suggest that we are no longer offering courses that are key to our country’s competitiveness. In my area, we are offering precisely that.