The hon. Lady is exactly right, so it is disappointing that we see consistent cuts in the adult budget. In the year ahead, Sheffield College faces a further £120,000 of cuts, even though it is best placed to meet the needs of both individuals and the local economy.
The third ask is for funding to enable the college to recruit competitively. It is simply wrong that the average FE teacher’s pay is £7,000 less than that of a schoolteacher. The Government refuse to underpin FE pay awards in the way they do for schools. That is not fair to staff and it makes it difficult to recruit, often in key vocational areas.
Fourthly, the college asks for funding in capital investment. Our college has good buildings, but it struggles to maintain up-to-date learning resources, particularly in expensive areas such as engineering. The college wants to ensure that all students experience real work environments wherever possible, but in too many areas resources are not up to industry standards.
Finally, as chair of the all-party parliamentary group on students and as someone who is committed to student wellbeing and conscious of the challenges of mental health in our schools, FE colleges and universities, I would add that colleges have not had the necessary resources to provide the support that FE students need. I hope that the Minister will make the argument to the Treasury for redressing the underfunding of recent years and ensure that our colleges have the funding they need to make the real difference that they seek to provide for students.