Colleges Week 2018 - The Windsor Forest Colleges Group calls for fairer funding

The Windsor Forest Colleges Group is joining forces with the Association of Colleges (AOC) to support its campaign which is calling on the government to stop the FE funding squeeze and to give colleges a fair investment. The initiative is part of Colleges Week 2018 which aims to raise awareness of the funding challenges colleges face while also highlighting the role colleges play in transforming lives, helping businesses improve productivity and driving local social and economic growth.

Group Principal and Chief Executive Kate Webb will be taking centre stage, alongside a number of speakers including Jeremy Corbyn, at the ‘Love Our Colleges’ rally in Parliament Square. Commenting on the challenge of increasing learner needs versus a decline in funding, she said: “There is little doubt that colleges play an invaluable role in the education of school leavers and adults which hugely benefits local businesses and the wider community – our contribution, impact and effectiveness is unquestionable. As part of Colleges Week 2018 we are therefore very proudly raising the profile of further education and demonstrating that now is the time for the government to start investing in this sector which trains an incredible 2.2 million people per year.”

At the heart of Colleges Week ‘Love Our Colleges’ campaign is a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies which highlights the scale of the funding issue. Per-student spending in FE and sixth-form colleges is around 8 per cent lower than in secondary schools and has also fallen by around 12 per cent in real terms since 2010.

And it is in recognition that potential learners are also feeling the financial squeeze which prompted the Group which includes Langley College, Windsor College and Strode’s College, to raise the threshold of the government’s recent low wage initiative from £15,736.50 to £20,000. Ms Webb explains further: “This new funding is ideal for working adults to upskill or retrain in order to enhance their career as many of our courses will now be free. But being based in outer London we realised that the threshold would need to be raised in order to reach more people. Already we are seeing how this funding and the power of further education can genuinely transform lives while directly benefiting the wider economy.”

David Hughes, Chief Executive, Association of Colleges, said: “Every single day colleges like The Windsor Forest Colleges Group provide a world class education and transform the lives of millions of people.

Colleges Week is an opportunity to celebrate the brilliant things that go on and a chance to showcase the brilliant staff that make it possible. It is simple, if we want a world-class education system then we need to properly invest in it.”

Ms Webb concluded: “At our colleges we are educating and training over 5,000 young people and adults every year from A Levels to degree. We have invested £30million in our college’s infrastructure to provide the very latest technology and industry standard equipment so our students gain the advanced skills employers want. We have students progressing to prestigious universities including Oxford, Durham, Bath and Warwick. We work with industry giants for our apprenticeship programmes. Yet our work, which is vital to the economy, is under recognized and under funded by the government.”

For further information on Colleges Week 2018 please go to www.collegesweek.co.uk and for further information on the low wage initiative and eligible courses please click here

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