ATL on financial viability of FE and review of the sector
Commenting on yesterdays National Audit Offices report into the financial viability of further education and the Governments plans for a review of FE, Nansi Ellis, assistant general secretary at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said:
“The National Audit Office (NAO) report is grim reading, particularly as the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) expects around 70 FE colleges may be financially inadequate by the end of 2015/16.
“It is deeply depressing that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the SFA ignored the NAO’s warning in March to pay attention to the financial health of the FE sector. It is glaringly obvious that this Government does not value FE and totally fails to appreciate the importance it plays in providing skills for millions of people every year.
“The funding system for FE colleges is deeply flawed. And the Government is about to plunge FE into an even deeper financial crisis with its announcement yesterday to cut the adult skills budget by a further 3.9%, on top of the 24% cut it has already planned. If the Government makes FE colleges repay funding where they have over-estimated their spending for this year, at the same time as it cuts their budgets, some FE colleges will undoubtedly be forced to close. These cuts will drastically reduce the opportunities for young people and adults to gain skills or retrain.
“We want a new funding model for FE which frees it from centralised control and allows colleges to collaborate with local employers and plan its curriculum, education and training strategies to meet the needs of its students and local companies.
“We recognise the need for a review of FE, but do not think specialist colleges are the answer because they would narrow young people’s training options. The Government needs to recognise that any large scale restructuring of FE would require external help and support because experienced leaders have been haemorrhaged following the recent budget cuts.
“The area reviews, together with the massive budget cuts, are a deadly double whammy which will reduce the size and flexibility of the FE sector and spell disaster for hundreds of thousands of young people and adults.”