Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox made a speech in Parliament yesterday in defence of further education.
The debate was brought forward by the Labour party, concerned that government cuts and underfunding of further education would impede productivity and the growth of the economy. Mrs Cox raised concerns about the government’s review into post 16 education and the impact that will have on her constituents and on the rest of Kirklees.
Mrs Cox told the House of Commons: “A thriving FE sector is directly linked to a higher-wage, higher-skilled and more productive economy, yet sadly, as the Secretary of State has admitted, post-16 education is in a fragile state.
“Following funding cuts in the last Parliament, colleges are being forced to survive on starvation rations. As I discussed with Yorkshire businesses just this week, these cuts mean young people are leaving further education without the qualifications employers desperately require, and firms are unable to develop, expand and grow.
“In Kirklees, our sixth-form colleges are doing some amazing work despite the funding constraints imposed on them. We have sixth-form colleges of high repute achieving great things academically and vocationally, and of course the FE sector also offers unique provision and is indeed sometimes a lifeline for some of the most vulnerable people in society—people who did not achieve their potential at school and for whom FE is a second or third chance.
“If we cut FE, these children and adults are in danger of being even more disengaged and excluded from education and society.”
Mrs Cox added: “FE provision has been disproportionately affected by Government cuts and has not been afforded the same protection offered to schools over the last six years.
“The Government’s decisions regarding further education are too often influenced solely by financial considerations, not on what really matters: providing our young people with the very best and most accessible form of academic or vocational education.
“This is what we want. This is what the FE sector wants. This is what students want. It is what parents want. It is also what universities and employers want.”