MP accuses Education Secretary of living in ‘alternative reality’ over college funding

Bury North MP James Frith took Education Secretary Justine Greening to task over post-16 funding at the Education Select Committee this week, accusing her of living in an ‘alternative reality’ when she suggested that sixth forms and colleges are receiving adequate funding.

James pointed out the disparity between funding for secondary and higher education compared to further education, with per pupil funding in secondary schools being 21% higher than at FE and 48% higher than FE in the higher education sector. Per pupil funding in the independent FE sector is a massive 70% higher than in mainstream sixth forms and colleges.

In Bury North, Holy Cross and Bury College have lost nearly £2 million from their budgets over the last three years.

James said:

“Funding for colleges and sixth forms is in a dire state and has long been the poor relation to secondary and higher education. Despite this, £373 million of the education budget for 16-19 year olds has gone unspent over the last three years.

“The Education Secretary claimed that funding is adequate but she is living in an alternative reality if she believes that to be the case. At the very least, the Department for Education must ensure that all of the money ringfenced for 16-19 education is actually spent and ideally should increase funding to a more reasonable level.

“Colleges are calling not unreasonably for an additional £200 per pupil per year of funding and this is a perfectly reasonable request which would fund more teaching, support and enrichment activities for young people.”

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