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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. “

 

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”

 

The letter in full:

 

As college leaders, we are pleased that the Augar Review understands the importance of a more coherent tertiary system.  It makes many positive recommendations that will support the economy by upskilling and reskilling the adult population of England, through investment in more flexible higher, technical and professional education and training, answering calls from business and in direct response to the pending challenges of technological change and Brexit.

 

The report and the recommendations are based on sound analysis of the current state of further and higher education in England. It also sets out the compelling need for a fairer society which works for everyone, based on a strong economy in which businesses can be even more productive. It recognises the role that further education colleges must have in aligning the skills system with the needs of the economy, and in delivering high quality alternatives to traditional three-year residential bachelor’s degrees as well as enabling more adults to progress to intermediate skill levels.  It 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.

 

Our concern is that, having waited so long, the key weakness of the Augar Review might prove to be its timing.  It has emerged at a moment when its insights and proposals might easily be lost.  That is why we are urging you to make the investment in upskilling and reskilling the whole of the adult population in England a priority in your spending decisions this autumn, and to implement the Augar recommendations promptly.

 

We stand ready, individually and collectively to deliver; eager to meet the challenges and excited at the prospect of helping to achieve a fairer society and successful future for our nation.

 

The 203 Signatories:

 

ESTABLISHMENT

 

PRINCIPAL/CEO

 

Abingdon & Witney College Di Batchelor
Activate Learning Sally Dicketts
Ada National College for Digital Skills Mark Smith
Askham Bryan College Tim Whitaker
Birmingham Met College Cliff Hall
Barking and Dagenham College Yvonne Kelly
Barnet & Southgate College Darren Mephan
Barnsley College Yiannis Koursis
Basingstoke College of Technology Anthony Bravo
Bath College Laurel Penrose
Bedford College Ian Pryce
Berkshire College of Agriculture Gillian May
Bexhill College Karen Hucker
Bishop Auckland College Natalie Davison-Terranova
Bishop Burton College Bill Meredith
Blackburn College Fazal Dad
Blackpool and The Fylde College Bev Robinson
Bolton College Bill Webster
Boston College Jo Maher
Bournemouth and Poole College Diane Grannell
Bradford College Chris Webb
Bridgwater and Taunton College Andy Berry
Brighton Hove and Sussex Sixth Form College William Baldwin
Brockenhurst College Di Roberts
Brooklands College Christine Rickettes
Brooksby Melton College Dawn Whitemore
Buckinghamshire College Group Karen Mitchell
Burnley College Karen Buchanan
Burton & South Derbyshire College Dawn Ward
Bury College Charlie Deane
Buxton and Leek College Len Tildsley
Calderdale College John Rees
Cambridge Regional College Mark Robertson
Capel Manor College Malcolm Goodwin
Capital City College Group (WKCIC)

  • City & Islington College
  • College of Haringey, Enfield & N E London
  • Westminster Kingsway College
Roy O’Shaughnessy

Andy Forbes

Kurt Hintz (Interim Principal)

Kim Caplin

Carmel College Mike Hill
Central Bedfordshire College Ali Hadawi
Chelmsford College Andy Sparks
Cheshire College South & West Jasbir Dhesi
Chesterfield College Julie Richards
Chichester College Group Shelagh Legrave
Cirencester College Jim Grant
City College Norwich and Paston College Corrienne Peasgood
City College Plymouth Jackie Grubb
City Lit Mark Malcomson
City of Bristol College Richard Harris
City of Wolverhampton College Malcolm Cowgill
Colchester Institute Alison Andreas
College of West Anglia David Pomfret
Coventry College Gill Banks
Craven College Joanne Sherrington
Croydon College Caireen Mitchell
Darlington College Kate Roe
Derby College Group Mandi Stravino
Derwentside College Chris Todd
DN Colleges Group

  • Doncaster College
  • North Lindsey College
Anne Tyrrell

Kathryn Brentnall

Mick Lochran

Dudley College of Technology Lowell Williams
Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College Karen Redhead
East Coast College Stuart Rimmer
East Durham College Suzanne Duncan
East Kent College Group Graham Razey
East Riding College Mike Welsh
East Surrey College Group Jayne Dickinson
East Sussex College Clive Cooke
Eastleigh College Jan Edrich
Easton & Otley College Jane Townsend
Exeter College John Laramy
Fareham College Andrew Kaye
Farnborough College of Technology Virginia Barrett
Fircroft College of Adult Education Mel Lenehan
Furness College Andrew Wren
Gateshead College Judith Doyle
Gloucestershire College Matthew Burgess
Grantham College Paul Deane
Greater Brighton Metropolitan College Nick Juba
Hadlow College Graham Morley
Halesowen College David Williams
Harlow College Group

  • Harlow College
  • Stansted Airport College
Karen Spencer

 

 

Hartlepool College Darren Hankey
Hartpury University and Hartpury College Russell Marchant
Havant & South Downs College Mike Gaston
Havering Sixth Form College Paul Wakeling
HCUC Group

  • Harrow College
  • Uxbridge College
Laraine Smith

Pat Carvalho

 

Heart of Worcestershire College Stuart Laverick
Hereward College Paul Cook
Herefordshire, Ludlow and North Shropshire College Ian Peake
Hertford Regional College Tony Medhurst
Highbury College Portsmouth Stella Mbubaegbu
Holy Cross College Daveth Frost
Hopwood Hall College Julia Heap
Hugh Baird College Yana Williams
Hull College Michelle Swithenbank
Isle of Wight College Debbie Lavin
Itchen Sixth Form College Alex Scott
Joseph Chamberlain Sixth Form College Tony Day
Kendal College Kelvin Nash
Kensington & Chelsea College Andy Cole
King Edward V1 College Uly Lyons
Kingston Maurward College Luke Rake
Kirklees College Marie Gilluley
Lakes College Chris Nattress
Lancaster & Morecambe College Wes Johnson
Leeds City College Colin Booth
Leeds College of Building Derek Whitehead
Leicester College Verity Hancock
Lincoln College Group

  • Gainsborough College
  • Lincoln College
  • Newark College
Gary Headland

 

 

 

London South East College’s Group Sam Parrett OBE
Loughborough College John Doherty
LTE

  • The Manchester College
  • UCEN Manchester
John Thornhill

Lisa O’Loughlin

Michael Walsh

Macclesfield College Rachel Kay
Mid Kent College Simon Cook
Middlesborough College Zoe A Lewis
Milton Keynes College Julie Mills OBE
Moulton College Ann Turner
Myerscough College Alison Robinson
National College for High Speed Rail Clair Mowbray
NCG

  • Carlisle College
  • Kidderminster College
  • Lewisham College
  • Newcastle College
  • Newcastle Sixth Form College
  • Southwark College
  • West Lancashire College
Chris Payne

Grant Glendinning

Andy Dobson

Asfa Sohail

Tony Lewin

Gerard Garvey

Annette Cast

Denise Williamson

Nelson & Colne College Amanda Melton
New City College Gerry McDonald
New College Durham John Widdowson
New College Stamford Janet Meenaghan
New College Swindon Carole Kitching
Newbury College Iain Wolloff
Newcastle and Stafford Colleges Group Karen Dobson
Newham College London Paul Stephen
NESCOT Frances Rutter
Northampton College Pat Brennan-Barrett
North Hertfordshire College Kit Davies
North Kent College David Gleed
North Warwickshire & South Leicestershire College Marion Plant
Nottingham College John van de Laarschot
Oaklands College Zoe Hancock
Oldham College Alun Francis
Peterborough Regional College Rachel Nicholls
Petroc Diane Dimond
Plumpton College Jeremy Kerswell
Preston’s College Lis Smith
Reaseheath College Marcus Clinton
Richard Huish College John Abbott
Richmond & Hillcroft Adult & Community College Gabe Flint
Richmond Upon Thames College Robin Ghurbhurun
Riverside College, Halton Mary Murphy
RNN Group

  • Rotherham College and North Notts College
  • Dearne College
Jason Austin
Runshaw College Simon Partington
Salford City College Michael Sheehan
Sandwell College Graham Pennington
Scarborough TEC Ann Hardy
Selby College Phil Sayles
Shipley College Nav Chohan
Shrewsbury Colleges Group James Staniforth
Solihull College & University Centre John Callaghan
South and City College Birmingham Mike Hopkins
South Devon College Stephen Criddle
South Essex College Angela O’Donoghue
South Gloucestershire and Stroud College Sara-Jane Watkins
South Staffordshire College Claire Boliver
South Thames College Group

  • South Thames College
  • Carshalton College
  • Kingston College
Peter Mayhew-Smith

 

 

 

Southampton City College Sarah Stannard
Southport College John Clarke
Sparsholt College Group

  • Andover College
Tim Jackson

 

SK Group

  • St Helens College
  • Knowsley College
Monica Box

 

 

Stanmore College Sarbdip Noonan
Stephenson College Nigel Leigh
Stockton Riverside College Group Phil Cook
Stoke on Trent College Denise Brown
Strode College Katy Quinn
Suffolk New College Viv Gillespie
Sunderland/Northumberland College Ellen Thinnesen
Swindon College Steve Wain
Tameside College Jackie Moores
Telford College Graham Guest
The City of Liverpool College Elaine Bowker
The College of Richard Collyer Sally Bromley
The Cornwall College Group Elaine McMahon
The Northern College Yultan Mellor
The Sheffield College Angela Foulkes
The TEC Partnership Group (formerly the Grimsby Institute Group)

  • Grimsby Institute of Further and Higher Education
  • Scarborough TEC
Gill Alton

Debra Gray

Ann Hardy

The Windsor Forest Colleges Group

  • Langley College
  • Strode’s College
  • Windsor College
Kate Webb

 

 

 

Trafford College Group

  • Trafford College
  • Stockport College
Lesley Davies

 

 

Truro and Penwith College David Walrond
Tyne Coast College Dr Lyndsey Whiterod CBE
Unified Seevic and Palmers College Dan Pearson
United Colleges Group

  • City of Westminster College
  • College of North West London
Keith Cowell

 

 

Vison West Nottinghamshire College Andrew Cropley
Wakefield College Sam Wright
Walsall College Jatinder Sharma
Waltham Forest College Joy Kettyle
Warrington & Vale Royal College Nichola Newton
WCG/Warwickshire College Group Angela Joyce
WEA Ruth Spellman
West Herts College Gill Wogan
West Kent and Ashford College Graham Morley
Weston College Dr Paul Phillips CBE
West Suffolk College Nikos Savvas
Weymouth College Nigel Evans
West Thames College Tracy Aust
Wigan and Leigh College Anna Dawe
Wiltshire College & University Centre Amanda Burnside
Wirral Met College Sue Higginson
WMC – The Camden College Helen Hammond
Yeovil College John Evans
York College Lee Probert

 

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