The Windsor Forest Colleges Group Principal and CEO Kate Webb has joined forces with the leaders of every general further education college in England 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”. In this unprecedented move the letter calls on the government to urgently invest 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). 

 Commenting on the importance of the government taking action now, Ms Webb said: “We want to make sure the government is not distracted from the findings of the Augar Review which offers a turning point for the way in which colleges are funded now and into the future. Our colleges are primed and ready to deliver the country’s urgent demands for technical and vocational skills. However, we need the right level of funding to deliver the skills revolution this country requires.”

The 203 leaders are responsible for institutions that educate and train 2 million people each year, employing 180,000 staff with 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 include:

  • “[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. “

David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges concludes: “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.”

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With the government announcing new funding for low paid earners, many adult courses offered by the Windsor Forest Colleges Group will now be free. Anyone earning less than £20,000 who is not already eligible for free funding, can now receive full funding on a wide range of courses at Langley, Strode’s or Windsor Colleges, starting in September 2018.

Chief Executive and Group Principal Kate Webb welcomed the announcement commenting: “This is a great opportunity for those who want to improve their English with one of our ESOL courses, learn a new skill to either develop their career or re-train for a completely new direction. This new government funding will take the worry out of having to finance courses as many offered at our colleges will now be free. Anyone keen to take advantage of the funding needs to move quickly as this is a year’s trial by the government for courses starting from September.”

She continued: “We already offer a number of courses that are completely free for adults who are unemployed or claiming a range of benefits. This is the first time the government has acknowledged that people on a low wage should also be entitled to free education and training. This will improve the career and employment opportunities for many in our community.”

Eligible courses range from the technical such as Level 1 and 2 Construction, Hair and Beauty and Motor Vehicle through to the professional including Accountancy, Business, Hospitality and Travel and Tourism.

This initiative will also be welcomed by employers who can now utilise this funding to help upskill their staff who may be employed at entry level who are keen to progress.

The government funding is aimed at people earning less than £15,736.50 annual gross salary, based on the Social Mobility Commission’s low pay threshold. However Windsor Forest Colleges Group has acknowledged that the low pay threshold in outer London would be higher and has therefore increased its level to those earning £20,000 or less.

Visit the Langley or Windsor College course pages, or Strode's College course pages to discover the courses. Alternatively, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information. 

 

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Wednesday, 27 February 2013 10:11

Advanced Learner Loans

Government loans are available to support those aged 19 and over and who are studying a course at levels 3 to 6, for example A Levels, BTEC Extended Diplomas and Access to Higher Education Diplomas.

Eligibility
If you are aged 19-23 and studying a Level 3 for the first time this September you may be eligible for government funding for your course. To find out if this applies to you or for more information please contact our admission team on 01753 793288.

To be eligible for the Advanced Learner Loan you need to:
  • Be aged 19 or above at the beginning of your course
  • Been resident in the UK for three years
  • Been offered a place on a eligible course at an approved college

Taking out the loan
If you have carefully considered your options and decided to take out the Advanced Learner Loan you will not need to pay any tuition fees at your enrolment. You also don’t need to worry about paying back the loan until you’re earning over £21,000 a year. Advanced Learner Loans, don’t affect your credit rating and you are not means tested.

Paying back the loan
The repayments are designed to be affordable; you will only repay a small percentage per month of the amount you earn over the £21,000 threshold.

Please note that in order to pay for your tuition fees using a loan, you must have your loan approved prior to the beginning of your course. In very exceptional circumstances we may allow you to start studying providing you have a loan application underway and can demonstrate your eligibility.

You can apply for a loan online here.

Support
Our student services team are happy to talk to you further about Advanced Learner Loans. Please see our leaflet or contact us via telephone 01753 793271 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Further information 

For more information on Advanced Learner Loans please view the government website here.

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