Reed urges Minister to prevent Croydon College cuts

 In Croydon, News, Parliament

Croydon North MP Steve Reed has spoken in a debate at the House of Commons this morning on the government’s planned cuts for further education funding for 18 year olds. Last week Steve met with the Principal of Croydon College, Frances Wadsworth, to hear first-hand the concerns of the college about the impact on the college’s finances and its ability to provide a high-quality education to young people in the borough. Neither of Croydon’s other two MPs attended the debate.

Croydon college takes a far higher number of 18 year olds compared to the national average and so the impact of the cuts to Croydon far exceeds that elsewhere in the country. Croydon College estimates that the cuts will be in excess of half a million pounds.

The profile of 18 year old learners within the further education system is of students who come from more deprived backgrounds, are less likely to have achieved the same educational standards as other 18 year olds and, particularly in Croydon, are likely to come from non-white British backgrounds; 69% of Croydon College’s 18 year old students come from ethnic groups other than White British, compared to 20% nationally.

During the debate Steve said:

“Croydon North has a higher rate of youth unemployment than any neighbouring constituency and also very high levels of poverty and disadvantage.  Many of my younger constituents attend Croydon College, trying to better themselves and make themselves more employable. And yet, for Croydon College, the proposed cuts are particularly acute. 

“While 22% of 16-18 learners are aged 18 nationally, at Croydon College this figure is 35%.  18 year olds are more likely than 16 or 17 year olds to be from deprived backgrounds, more likely to be from minority ethnic groups, and the least likely to have achieved level 2 by the time they enter college. 

“The financial impact on Croydon College is upwards of £511k, a higher percentage of the College’s total budget than elsewhere because of the higher proportion of students who will be affected.  The College inform me that this is the highest percentage reduction in funding of any college in the sector.  Given the level of deprivation that many of these students live with, and how hard they are trying to turn their fortunes around, cuts on this scale are a bitter blow that will severely damage our community as a whole.” 

In summing up the debate, the Education minister Matthew Hancock said that he would look into cases raised in the debate where the impact appears most severe, including Croydon, and Steve has now written to the minister asking for a meeting to further press Croydon’s case.

Speaking after the debate Steve said:

“It is completely misguided of the government to cut funding for 18 year olds’ further education. These students are trying to improve their education and make themselves more employable and I cannot understand why the government is singling them out in this way. I have written to the minister and will continue to push for a fairer settlement for Croydon.”

You can see a full copy of Steve’s speech here: