WARRINGTON & Vale Royal College Principal and Chief Executive Nichola Newton is one of more than 200 college leaders to write to the Chancellor and Secretary of State, demanding the implementation of the Post-18 Education Review (The Augar Review).
In an unprecedented move, the leaders of every general further education college in England have joined forces 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” by urgently investing 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).
The 203 leaders are responsible for institutions that educate and train 2 million people each year, employing 180,000 staff and they have 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:
“[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. “
Nichola said: “Further Education is the bedrock for technical skills and training in the UK, both for young people and adults.
“The implementation of the recommendations from the Augar report will enable colleges to make the necessary and overdue investment in skills to support local and UK economic prosperity in the fourth industrial revolution.”
Bev Robinson OBE, member of the Independent Panel and co-author of the Augar Review said: “The government’s response to the outcomes of the well-received Augar Review is arguably a watershed moment for the British government. Choosing to enact the recommendations would demonstrate the government’s commitment to the much-needed skills revolution which our country needs, which industry is crying out for and which will promote social equity for all adults, not just the 50% as it is now.”
Alun Francis, Principal and Chief Executive, Oldham College said: “The technical and professional education which our colleges specialise in, is a hidden strength of this country. There is some astonishingly good provision, but the system overall has been held back by a clear view of its role backed by a serious investment plan.
Implementing the Augar Review will genuinely change lives, communities and the economy for a generation. Now is the time to act.”
David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges said:“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.”
Lowell Williams, CEO Dudley College of Technology said: “There are many examples of colleges in the UK delivering technical learning which is simply amazing. But these examples are too often the exception and not the rule. On the eve of the fourth industrial revolution we have the opportunity to make really great technical learning the norm in every UK college. The Augar Review clearly shows us how. Implementing the Augar Review should be the main focus for the government’s skills agenda.”
Shelagh Legrave, CEO and Principal, Chichester College Group said: “The Augar report comes at a critical time for further education institutions and recognises the central role which Colleges are playing in providing a skilled workforce to businesses. It is crucial that the report’s key recommendations for further education are implemented to address the shortfall in technicians in the UK economy”