The petition of residents of the United Kingdom,
Declares that while participation in full-time education has more than doubled over the past 30 years, it is reported that spending per student in further education is 8% lower than in secondary schools; further that colleges over the last decade have dealt with an average 30% cut to funding as costs continue to increase; further that this has resulted in a drastic drop in learning opportunities available to students, fewer teaching hours and support for young people, and staff pay; further that the situation is not sustainable and ultimately impacts on student performance; further that 547 staff and students from Darlington College have signed a similar petition to the government regarding further education funding.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to provide fair funding for further education and fair pay for college staff in the interest for student performance and educational outcomes.
And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Jenny Chapman , Official Report, 30 January 2019; Vol. 653, c. 792 .]
Observations from the Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills (Anne Milton):
Further education providers have a vital role to play in making sure young people and adults have the skills they need to get on in life. We are aware of the financial pressures in the further education sector generally which is why we are currently considering the efficiency and resilience of the sector and assessing how far existing funding and regulatory structures meet the costs of delivering quality further education.
We have protected the base rate of funding for all 16 to 19-year-old students until 2020 and plan to invest nearly £7 billion this academic year to make sure there is a place in education or training, including for apprenticeships, for every 16 to 19-year-old.
In addition, we have announced extra support for key priorities. We will provide additional funding to support institutions to grow participation in level 3 maths—an extra £600 for every additional student—with two payments of £600 if, for example, they are studying A level maths over two years. The first of these payments will be made in 2019-20. We have also approved significant restructuring funding for colleges. From 1 April 2016 to 31 January 2019, the total allocation of restructuring facility funding in England is approximately £470 million—the total spend so far is approximately £290 million.
Through the Adult Education Budget (AEB), we continue to provide full funding for adult learners who need English and maths skills to undertake a range of courses in GCSEs, Functional Skills and stepping stone qualifications from entry level to level 2. We have also announced a new statutory basic digital skills entitlement from 2020 to ensure adults can study for specified qualifications in basic digital skills free of charge to get the skills and capabilities they need to get on in life and work. We also recognise the vital role that community learning plays within AEB provision by providing accessible routes for adults to progress, and we fund this in a way that enables providers to meet the needs of disadvantaged learners. The Department has also taken the steps through Parliament to devolve the responsibility for adult education to metropolitan mayors, which is intended to allow for greater alignment of funding for this kind of provision to local need.
We will be looking hard in the forthcoming spending review at how to ensure adequate funding is available for further education, including adult skills, throughout the next spending review period.