Yesterday (5 July), Rt Hon Sir David Evennett, Member of Parliament for Bexleyheath and Crayford, spoke in the Department for Education Further Education Debate in the House of Commons.
During his speech, Sir David reflected on his own experience working at Bexley College between 1997 and 2005 under the inspirational leadership of Dr Jim Healy. The College is now part of the London South East London Colleges Group, which is led by Principal Dr Sam Parrett CBE, who Sir David praised for having “transformed the college to meet the challenges and opportunities of our area”. Sir David highlighted the excellent work of the wider FE Sector, which plays a crucial role in developing skills and enabling changes in career direction, vital in a rapidly changing economic landscape.
Sir David highlighted the support that the government has recently provided to the sector, including £1.5 billion to upgrade the estates of FE Colleges, £1.34 billion investment in education and skills training for adults and a 9% real terms rise in per student funding between 2021 and 2025. However, Sir David urged the government to do more to support FE colleges through the recruitment and funding challenges they face. In particular, Sir David called for an increase in staff pay to reduce pay disparities compared to teachers in schools, enable colleges to reclaim VAT and increase funding in line with inflation.
Sir David’s full speech, as well as the entire debate, can be read at: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2023-07-05/debates/325810F8-5B4A-4582-BE61-38FE41A65566/details