Brockenhurst College students take education funding campaign to MPs

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From left (top row) are principal Di Roberts, Association of Colleges president-elect Steve Frampton with (bottom row) A-level students Laura Whitcher, Charlotte Jones and Hannah Powis

STUDENTS who launched a petition calling on the government to increase further education funding watched the issue debated in parliament after gaining more than 70,000 signatures.

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Charlotte Jones and Hannah Powis, who are studying A-level politics at Brockenhurst College, believe funding should be on the same scale as that received by schools.

Around 50 MPs attended Westminster Hall last Monday for a three-hour discussion, which saw unanimous condemnation of cuts faced by the further education sector.

Charlotte and Hannah sat in on the speeches along with student union president Laura Whitcher and principal Di Roberts.

Education minister Anne Milton praised the youngsters and told MPs she would continue to support the case ahead of the forthcoming spending review.

Speaking afterwards, Charlotte said: “So many seats were filled. People care about our issue so much and it’s nice to see how passionate people feel about this.”

Laura added: “One of the best things about being here is seeing how we can affect parliament and how we can change things.”

The students hope that with continued pressure, politicians will meet with Treasury officials to take the issue further and secure extra funding.

Principal Di Roberts said: “Watching such a well-attended and strongly supported debate was a very positive experience for our students and I am incredibly proud of them and what they have achieved.

“I would now ask our parents, businesses and local community for their continued support through our Love our Colleges campaign until, as one of the MPs argued in the debate, equitable and sustainable funding for colleges is a top priority of the Department of Education in their negotiations with the Treasury.”

The students’ petition called on the government to “urgently” increase college funding to “sustainable levels”.

Current finances had reduced course choice and teaching support, and increased staff pressures and workload, it said.

Requesting extra funds, it said: “This will give all students a fair chance, give college staff fair pay and provide the high-quality skills the country needs. Funding for colleges has been cut by almost 30% from 2009 to 2019.”

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