ASCL comment on Education Secretary’s speech on FE

09/07/2020
Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on the Education Secretary’s speech ‘Further education will be central to our mission of levelling up the nation’
 
Commenting on the Education Secretary’s speech ‘Further education will be central to our mission of levelling up the nation’, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:
 
“We hope the Education Secretary’s warm words about the importance of further education are backed up with adequate funding.

“The truth is that colleges have been woefully underfunded by the government over the last decade. The situation is so serious that the government itself introduced an insolvency system because of the risk of them going bust.

“The most recent example of the neglect of further education was the government’s recent announcement of a £1 billion education catch-up fund in which it decided that no money should go to the post-16 sector.
 
“We are also not sure why the Education Secretary feels it necessary to denigrate the value of higher education in setting out his ambition for further education. FE and HE both have a place in developing the skills landscape and most FE colleges offer higher level and degree courses, often working in partnership with HE. Both sectors are of vital importance to our young people and our economy and already provide a variety of pathways to skills and careers.

“What does need to happen is an end to the false and pervasive divide that sees academic routes as superior to technical routes. The government’s relentless focus on insisting that academic qualifications in a set of traditional subjects are the gold standard for all children has helped to reinforce this perception. We need to provide young people with a wider range of equally valued academic and technical qualifications.”