16-to-19 Education Funding — [David Hanson in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:00 pm on 7th September 2017.

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Photo of John Grogan John Grogan Labour, Keighley 4:00 pm, 7th September 2017

I will make just two brief points. On the national situation, I will add one point to the sparkling speech of my hon. Friend Nic Dakin, who mentioned the underspending on 16 to 19-year-olds. The latest figure he cited was from 2015-16, but according to a parliamentary answer given in July, the currently projected underspending is even higher, at about £267 million. That would leave some spare change if his suggestion of an immediate uplift in spending per head were introduced.

I take great heart from the tone of Government Members today. There is a real hint of pressure from Government Back Benchers to moderate the worst of austerity, particularly in this area. I hope the confidence of my hon. Friend the Member for Scunthorpe in the Minister and her boss will be fully justified in November.

On the local situation, Keighley College offers hope, aspiration and opportunity to hundreds of 16 to 19-year-olds each year. It innovates, often in association with Bradford Council, and has close associations with the Industrial Centre of Excellence for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering and the Fab Lab, which was set up largely under the inspiration of Mick Milner, a local entrepreneur.

Since 2010, Keighley College has been part of Leeds City College. I urge the Minister to look closely at the local area reviews for West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire, because both have concluded that Keighley College should come out of Leeds City College and join up with Craven College and Shipley College to form a new Airedale College. There is a lot of local support for that—it would give the college a greater identity and diminish competition between the three colleges in the Airedale area—yet Leeds City College seems to be holding out against it. I request a meeting with the Minister about that. Leeds City College is putting a high price—possibly above £20 million—on Keighley College, which I understand was gifted in 2010. Leeds City College is frustrating the process. The proposal is backed by the local area reviews in West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire. I am meeting the principal of Leeds City College, as well as the local enterprise partnerships and the various councils involved soon. I hope that they will respond more positively to the local area reviews, which involved central Government, local government and business, and that they will give Keighley College a fresh start so that it can do even more for 16 to 19-year-olds in the future.