Further Education Funding — [Sir Roger Gale in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:30 am on 2nd April 2019.

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Photo of Richard Graham Richard Graham Conservative, Gloucester 9:30 am, 2nd April 2019

I will make a tiny bit of progress. I am conscious that a lot of hon. Members want to speak, so I will try to reach the end of my comments and bring the hon. Lady in before I finish.

It would be wrong of me not to mention the importance of Gloucestershire College—Gloscol—in my county of Gloucestershire, which I have known well for the last decade. The management have done their best to try to use resources to maximum effect and give our young people the opportunities that we are looking at across the country. Its 1,000 full and part-time staff serve some 3,500 students across the three campuses in Gloucester, Cheltenham and the Forest of Dean. It is clear, however, that even such a college, which has been rated good for the last three and a half years, is struggling to maintain the range of qualifications that my colleagues in Gloucestershire and I want it to provide.

I will not touch on South Gloucestershire and Stroud College, because Dr Drew will want to, but I suspect that he will mention some similar issues. I also pay tribute to my fellow campaigner in Stroud, Siobhan Baillie, who has visited the college twice recently and has highlighted some of the issues that it faces, including—as is true for all colleges—the teachers’ pension increases that cost it £1 million a year. I hope that the Minister will comment on those pension costs, which are a real issue for many colleges across the country; she has spoken about them before.