Ruth George MP for High Peak visited Buxton & Leek College last week to take questions from students and staff on the impact of a decade of funding cuts to further education.
Ruth’s visit was planned in conjunction with Colleges Week 2018, a national event organised by college staff, students and supporters, plus the education unions to lobby the government to provide fairer funding of FE in the budget and the next spending review.
Students at the round table discussion held at the Buxton campus asked Ruth questions such as why the government had cut funding, the impact on Colleges in relation to Brexit and where the extra funding that Labour proposes in their manifesto, would come from.
Len Tildsley, Principal of the College, speaking to the students before the discussions began, said:
“Colleges Week is a national campaign to raise awareness of our plight; to seek additional funding for further education. The intention of this discussion is to get Ruth on side to lobby the government on our behalf.”
Ruth said she didn’t need any persuasion that colleges needed extra funds and believed if 16 to 17-year-olds had the vote, the current government wouldn’t treat FE and standards of living for the age group as poorly as they do.
Speaking after the discussion she further commented:
“I was delighted to call into Buxton & Leek College, where my own son studied Business a few years ago, to speak with current students and staff about the Love Our Colleges campaign which I fully support. Education up to 18-years-old is now compulsory and it’s the most important time for young people to acquire the skills and qualifications they need to go into higher education or start a career.
“The government needs to put more money into education as a whole and to make sure it is distributed with the greatest impact on young people’s chances in life. Huge amounts have been allocated to build new free schools, even where they aren’t needed, and into the apprenticeship levy, which colleges can’t access to support mainstream students. Meanwhile, funding for 16-19-year-olds has dropped by almost 30% since 2009. College staff earn, on average, £7,000 less than school teachers and are often on temporary contracts as funding is precarious.
“Overall, companies with multi-million profits have seen their corporation tax halve, whilst the value of shares has doubled, paying more in profit and dividends to the well-off people who own them. The Labour Party would change these priorities and concentrate far more of our country’s resources on education and the valuable role that colleges play.”