MP Stella Creasy and the Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith joins college campaign to highlight discriminatory funding of further education

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Waltham Forest College hosted a series of activities as part of the ‘Love Our Colleges’ week showcasing all the brilliant work they do, day in and day out, as well as taking part in a national lobby of Parliament on Wednesday 17 October. Students, staff, parents, MPs and Union Reps all collaborated to help raise the awareness nationally.

The ‘Love Our Colleges’ campaign is a partnership between Association of Colleges (AoC), National Union of Students (NUS), Association of College and School Leaders (ASCL), University and Colleges Union (UCU), Unison, GMB, TUC and National Education Union (NEU).

Rooted in local communities, colleges are crucial in driving social mobility and providing the skills to boost local and regional economies. However, there is currently a reduction in education funding once a student turns 16 – whether they are in a school sixth form or a college. ‘Love Our Colleges’ is calling on the government to increase 16-19 funding by 5% a year for 5 years. It is also asking Department for Education to provide exceptional funding, ring-fenced for teacher pay.

Waltham Forest College plays a vital part of the East London region offering career pathways to university, apprenticeship and employment. Each year it supports 4,500+ students offering over 200 courses across 37 subject areas.

Principal, Dr. Joy Kettyle, headed up the national lobby of Parliament on Wednesday 17 October, accompanied by students, staff and local MP Stella Creasy.

She said: “Our young people are being short-changed compared with their counterparts in other countries and compared with previous generations. The hours of teaching and support, the choice they have and the enrichment they are offered have all reduced as funding cuts have bitten. This cannot continue if we are to secure the future of our nation.”

The Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith attended the College for a roundtable discussion with students from a variety of industry sectors. Students discussed their views on the importance of financial funding in further education, and how the College supports them to reach their career goals.

He said: “FE Colleges are the forgotten sector where you have money in education at school level and money also following people into education in universities. It’s as though FE colleges don’t feature on the same level and I think they should as we head towards what is rapidly becoming the new industrial-technological revolution.

Many people who’ve gone through school will also need to re-skill and FE colleges are critical for that. There should be a greater investment as well as recognition of the important place FE colleges hold within the educational establishment.”

David Hughes, Chief Executive, Association of Colleges, said: “Every single day colleges like Waltham Forest College provide a world class education and transform the lives of millions of people.

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Colleges Week is an opportunity to celebrate the brilliant things that go on and a chance to showcase the brilliant staff that make it possible. It is simple, if we want a world-class education system then we need to properly invest in it.”

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