Further education cuts could restrict choice, says Newham principal

Principle of Newham College, Di Gowland, (centre) with students and staff in a construction class wh

Principle of Newham College, Di Gowland, (centre) with students and staff in a construction class which could be axed if cuts go ahead - Credit: Vickie Flores/Archant

The principal of a further education college has expressed concern that government cuts to funding will reduce choice and lead to higher unemployment rates for young people.

Di Gowland, principal and chief executive of Newham College, is lobbying Westminster to fund the education of 16 to 18-year-olds at the same level provided for 14 to 16-year-olds.

As a member of the Association of Colleges (AoC), a representative body for colleges, she said: “We’re all completely worried about the prospect of the cuts.

“They are not new, we’ve all been dealing with significant cuts to further education budgets for the last five years.”

Chancellor George Osborne will announce the outcome of the Spending Review on November 25 and the AoC say it will leave 16 to 18-year-olds in education vulnerable.

Ms Gowland believes a lack of availability on courses could lead to higher unemployment rates as more people grow up without skills.

“We’re also being asked to make cuts to adult education. Basically what they’re saying is that adults should pay for education,” she said. “In an area like Newham, many of the 16 to 18-year-olds don’t have 10 A*s at GCSEs. They’re the students for whom school wasn’t the best route but a college may well be, and that alternative is being eroded.”

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Ms Gowland explained a 10 per cent budget cut, which she’s expecting soon after November 25, would mean Newham College could lose up to £1.5 million.

The college would then be forced to reduce staff which would lead to the closure of courses, she explained.

“This would mean more young people losing out on skills they could have gained. I think a lot of parents don’t understand the impact it will have on our young people. People should start lobbying now, it will make a significant difference to the life chances of our children.”

A spokesman for the Department of Education said the schools budget had been protected and that the unfair difference between post-16 schools and colleges had ended through funding them per student rather than discriminating between qualifications.

He added: “We have provided sufficient funds for every full-time student to do a full timetable of courses and increased support for those who successfully study four or more A levels and large TechBacc programmes.”

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