Sheffield MPs support ‘Love Our Colleges’ campaign

Sheffield MPs have lent their support to a national campaign that celebrates the positive impact of colleges and calls for fairer funding.

‘Love Our Colleges’ highlights the vital role that colleges play in local communities and the economy and the need for proper investment in the further education sector and fairer pay for FE staff.

The national campaign, backed by The Sheffield College, launched this week during Colleges Week – which takes place from October 15th to 19th.

Angela Foulkes, Chief Executive and Principal of The Sheffield College, members of the governing body, trade union representatives and staff met MPs in Parliament today, October 17th, as part of a national day of lobbying.

Angela said: “Every year further education colleges transform the lives of over 2.2 million students. At The Sheffield College we are proud to be an integral part of our community; we teach, train and develop the skills of over 13,000 students every year and prepare them for their future careers and to be the workforce that our region needs.”

She added: “FE changed my life and over the past 25 years I have been proud to work in a sector that has changed countless other lives and launched many, many amazing careers. We are a vital part of the education sector. The ‘Love Our Colleges’ campaign highlights that we need fairer funding for our sector, so that we can continue to transform lives, and fair pay for our amazing staff so that they can continue with our great work.”

Paul Blomfield, MP for Sheffield Central, added: “I was delighted that Angela and some college staff came to Parliament today to highlight the importance of further education in the lives of so many people.

“The Sheffield College teaches more 16 to18 year-olds than all our schools put together, and plays a huge role in providing the skills people need throughout their lives. From apprenticeships to A Levels and beyond, it provides the springboard to successful careers and opportunities to learn new skills.

“Despite its importance, further education is the neglected sector when it comes to funding. It needs the resources to invest in its facilities and to pay its teachers wages that will match those available in schools. That’s why I’m backing the Love Our Colleges campaign. We need to celebrate the contribution of further education and give our colleges the money they need.”

Angela Smith, MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, said: “As a former further education teacher I can vouch for what a great job our further education colleges do. They prepare youngsters for the world of work or higher education, they give people a second chance, helping them either into work or move on to next step. All of which can have positive effects on the communities they are based in and serve.”

She added: “It takes investment though if we want these people to succeed and for far too long further education has been treated as the Cinderella of the sector by government. If we want a thriving further education sector this has to change and that’s why I am happy to lend my support to the ‘Love Our Colleges’ campaign.”

Louise Haigh, MP for Sheffield Heeley, commented: “It was great to meet Angela today and discuss the key role our colleges play in training up students of all ages so they can pursue their goals in education and employment, as well as their funding situation and needs.

“One of my office staff originally joined the team as a Living Wage Apprentice from The Sheffield College and is now a permanent member – so I’m all too aware of the great work colleges can do in introducing people to new paths in their lives. Unfortunately they’ll struggle to be as transformative without enough funding to provide the teaching hours students need – so I’m all for this campaign for fair funding for further education.”

Gill Furniss, MP for Sheffield Brightside, commented: “It was my pleasure to meet with Angela and Dave from The Sheffield College today and to lend my support for the ‘Love Our Colleges’ campaign. Further education is vital for communities and the economy. It gives people a foundation to jump into work or higher education. Unfortunately government cuts have really hit the sector hard, and I am pleased to support the campaign to highlight the value of further education and to call for the government to fund this vital sector properly.’’

The Association of Colleges is spearheading the campaign in partnership with the National Union of Students, Association of College and School Leaders, University and Colleges Union, Unison, GMB, TUC and National Education Union.

According to research by the Association of Colleges, college funding nationally has dropped by around 30% from 2009 to 2019. A national petition started by FE students is gathering pace. Visit https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/229744.

The campaign, which is attracting support from colleges across the country, is calling on the government to increase funding for 16-19-year-olds by 5% a year for the next five years and to provide exceptional funding, ring-fenced for teacher pay. It is also calling for greater investment in adult education.

Visit https://www.collegesweek.co.uk/. Follow #LoveOurColleges #FairFunding. For more information about The Sheffield College’s next open days on October 25th and November 21st, visit www.sheffcol.ac.uk or call 0114 2602600.