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City College Norwich principal joins call for Government to implement Augar Review recommendations

28th June 2019

The principal of City College Norwich has joined the leaders of England’s colleges in calling on the Government to implement the recommendations of the recent Post-18 Education Review (The Augar Review).

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.

The letter urges the Government 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 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, can achieve to at least level three; and a rebalancing of the traditional post-18 educational landscape.

City College Norwich and Paston College make a key contribution to meeting the skills needed by Norfolk’s economy, with a combined total of around 8,300 learners.

This includes over 700 18-year-old students in full-time further education, 1,500 adult learners, and a further 800 students on Higher Education courses – key groups that the Augar Review says need to be a priority for national skills policy and investment.

Corrienne Peasgood, principal, City College Norwich, said:

City College Norwich and Paston College work with a wide range of employers to provide high quality training - from vocational courses for 16-18 year olds, to Apprenticeships, degrees and professional qualifications - that meets pressing local and regional skills needs.

 

The Augar Review recommended a variety of ways to ensure that technical and professional education receives the support it needs, as part of an integrated strategy that also encompasses investment in Higher Education. The Government now has a crucial opportunity to deliver on the Review’s recommendations, which have the unanimous backing of every college in England.

 

This is our chance to provide more opportunities for young people and adults to study and train for the high quality technical and professional jobs that Norfolk, and the wider regional and national economy, requires.

 

Implementing the review’s recommendations would make a significant difference to the opportunities we are able to offer students at City College Norwich and Paston College. The 17.5% cut in education funding for 18-year olds alone, which Augar recommends reversing, means that Norfolk students at our college are being under-funded by half a million pounds every year.

 

As a college we have prioritised investment in industry-standard facilities for our students, most recently with our planned new building for digital skills, for which we were awarded £6.1m by New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership. However, it is getting harder and harder to find the money to pay for the equipment and buildings we need. The Augar Review recommendation to invest £1 billion in college equipment and buildings would go a long way towards helping colleges like ours continue to deliver the technical and professional skills needed across all sectors.”

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. “


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.”

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.”