With impeccable timing, I trust you will agree, Mr Deputy Speaker, after a debate like that, I rise to present a petition organised and promoted by Charlotte Jones and Laura Whitcher of Brockenhurst College in my constituency, an outstanding further education college, on the funding differential that has developed between schools and FE colleges. Instead of the usual few introductory remarks, I simply place on the record a quotation from Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s chief inspector, who wrote to the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee recently saying:
“While it is true to say that spending per pupil in primary and secondary schools has increased significantly in real terms since the early 1990s, the same is not true for further education and skills (FES) spending. I have expressed my concerns before, based on our inspection evidence, that the real-term cuts to FES funding are affecting the sustainability and quality of FES provision. My strong view is that the government should use the forthcoming spending review to increase the base rate for 16 to 18 funding.”
The petition states:
The petition of the students at Brockenhurst College in the New Forest East constituency,
Declares that college funding must be urgently increased to sustainable levels, including immediate parity with recently announced increases to school funding, which will give all students a fair chance, give college staff fair pay and provide the high quality skills the country needs post-Brexit;
further that funding for colleges has been cut almost by 30% in the last 10 years causing a significant reduction in the resources available for teaching and support of sixth formers in schools and colleges;
potentially restricted course choice;
fewer adults in learning;
pressures on staff pay and workload;
and further that an online Parliamentary petition on this matter received 40,000 signatures in its first week and now stands at 58,000.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Department of Education, together with her Majesty’s Treasury to increase at the earliest opportunity funding for colleges to fair and sustainable levels.
And the petitioners remain, etc.