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Abingdon and Witney College Principal joins college leaders to write to the Chancellor and Secretary of State

28th Jun 2019

• Every leader from every general further education college in England has written to the Chancellor and Secretary of State for Education
• The letter is calling on government to implement the recommendations of the government’s recent Post-18 Education Review [The Augar Review]
• Recent forecasting by AoC warns that the country risks widening the skills gap and reducing economic output by £3.3 billion a year, if government isn’t swift to act

In an unprecedented move, the leaders of every general further education college in England have joined forces to write an open letter to the Chancellor and Secretary of State for Education urging them to “answer the calls from business” and respond to the “challenges of technological change and Brexit” by urgently investing in the country’s technical and vocational education system by implementing the main recommendations of the government’s recent Post-18 Education Review (the Augar Review).

The 203 leaders are responsible for institutions that educate and train 2 million people each year, employing 180,000 staff and they have a combined turnover of £6 billion per annum.

The Augar Review called for, amongst other things, an end to the 17.5% cut in education funding for 18-year olds, support so that everybody, regardless of age, to achieve to at least level three, and a rebalancing of the traditional post-18 educational landscape.

Key extracts from the letter:
“[The Post-18 Review] understands that employers and communities need more high quality technical and professional education and training, industry standard facilities, expert staff and the unique curriculum that colleges already provide. It sees colleges as the key vehicle for the flexible, local delivery of national strategies, supporting industrial policy, productivity, skills development and genuine social equity. It clearly acknowledges that all this requires real investment.”

“In many respects the Augar Review represents a wider emerging consensus across England. We are sure that you will agree with us and other key stakeholders that further education colleges have been neglected, and that there is now a growing appreciation of their unique role, value and potential. What we now need are decisions and commitments: with your political leadership, support and resolve, colleges will be able to build on what they already do to reach more employers and more adults and make the differences our economy and society need.”

Di Batchelor, Principal and Chief Executive of Abingdon and Witney College said:

“Further Education Colleges such as Abingdon and Witney College genuinely change lives and communities. We are uniquely placed to work with young people and adults from all backgrounds, and provide them with the personal, vocational and technical skills they need. Our students make a difference to their communities, to their employers, and to the economy and the country as a whole.

The Augar Review quite rightly acknowledges the significant impact made by colleges such as ours, but it also recognises that if we are to build on what we already do so well, then investment in the sector is urgently needed. As Principals, we are asking government to implement the recommendations of the Augar Review without delay so that we can continue our considerable contribution towards delivering a fairer society and a successful future for all.”

David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges said:

“It is extraordinary to have every leader in every general further education college in the country collaborate like this. But then these are extraordinary times. These college leaders are uniquely placed at the hearts of their communities, working closely with local, national and international business, supporting individuals to get on in life, and driving the social mobility agenda.

Government needs to listen to them if they’ve got any chance of tackling the major issues this country faces, now and in the future.”

(June 2019)