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

The hon. Lady makes a very good point, as shown by the warmth of approval purring through the Chamber. She is a fantastic example of what a further education college can achieve; perhaps we should have a colleges alumni group in Parliament.

Some of the comments that the Association of Colleges and other royal societies have fed in to me confirm the general picture that I and other hon. Members have painted so far, which is that we need more funding for teachers’ pay; more help to ensure that the range of subjects continues to increase rather than decrease; and more young people to get decent results in English and maths at A-level. We also need to tackle the shortage in science, technology, engineering and maths skills, which are vital for our country’s future, as several hon. Members have mentioned.

I will finish by alluding to a remarkable bundle of statistics. There are 171,000 16 to 18-year-olds doing A-levels in further education colleges—a huge army of young people who deserve to be taught well and given the resources they need—and 672,000 students taking STEM subjects in colleges, who also deserve the best teachers available from a sector where salaries are getting higher all the time.

For all the reasons mentioned, I hope that the debate encourages the skills Minister on her chosen path, which is to be the champion of further education colleges. I also hope it will ensure that, in this spending review and Budget, further education colleges finally get the increase in funding that they deserve, so that they can ultimately improve opportunities and productivity, and be the success that we all want them to be in our constituencies.