A Sheffield education chief is urging local residents and employers across the city to support a national campaign demanding fairer funding for the college sector.
A national petition spearhead by students is calling on the government to urgently increase college funding to sustainable levels, and on a parity with schools, to give all students a fair chance, college staff fair pay and provide the high quality skills the country needs.
Angela Foulkes, Chief Executive and Principal of The Sheffield College, said: “The Sheffield College transforms thousands of lives in this fantastic city each year, helping our students go further and gain the skills that employers need. But we need proper investment as well as fairer pay for our staff so we can continue the great work that we do.”
She added: “I want to urge residents and employers in the city to show their support for further education colleges by signing this national petition. If it reaches 100,000 signatures, the government will hold a Parliamentary debate about the call for fairer funding.”
Attracting more than 64,000 signatures so far, the petition was launched by Brockenhurst College students as part of the Love Our Colleges campaign celebrating the impact of further education colleges on their local communities and economies. To sign the petition, visit https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/229744
According to research by the Association of Colleges, college funding nationally has dropped by around 30% from 2009 to 2019. Love Our Colleges highlights the vital role that colleges play in local communities and the economy as well as the need for proper investment in the further education sector and fairer pay for FE staff.
College leaders, students, staff and the trade unions took part in a lobbying event and march on Parliament last month to raise awareness of the campaign and discuss their concerns with MPs.
Seb Schmoller, Chair of The Sheffield College Governing Body, who also represents Yorkshire and the Humber on the Association of Colleges’ National Governors Council, added: “Anyone who looks at the petition can see the number of signatures by constituency, laid out on a snazzy heat map. With the support of local media we can surely ensure that support for the fair funding petition is deep across the whole of the region.”
The Association of Colleges has been spearheading the Love Our Colleges 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. Visit https://www.collegesweek.co.uk/ for more information. Follow #LoveOurColleges #FairFunding.
The campaign is calling on the government to increase funding for 16-19-year-olds by 5% a year for the next five years, as well as proper investment in adult education, and to provide exceptional funding, ring-fenced for teacher pay.
Current funding levels in England mean that most young people receive around 16 hours of teaching and support per week. This compares to approximately 25 to 30 hours per week for students in high performing education systems in other countries, according to the Association of Colleges.