Friday, 10 April 2015

General Election 2015: Letters to Thurrock's Parliamentary candidates – Education cuts

Here’s the second of the letters I have sent out to my local Parliamentary candidates.  As usual, all letters and responses are included totally unedited.

The Letter

Dear candidate,

On Thursday 26 February, the Skills Funding Agency notified colleges that their budgets would be cut by around 17% in 2015/16. Due to protections on apprenticeship funding, this will translate to a funding cut of 24% for non-apprenticeship learning.

The further education sector is united in its opposition to these cuts, which will decimate further education in England. Millions of people use colleges every year as a springboard to improving their education and skills, and cuts of this size will shut the door on those who need it most.

The adult skills budget has been cut by 35% since 2009 and cannot sustain further cuts. Over 1 million learners have already been lost, and it is estimated that these latest cuts would lead to a further 400,000 people losing out on learning opportunities.

As a member of this constituency, I am writing to ask for your support in opposing these cuts. Please sign our petition and add your voice to our call for a rethink on this drastic funding cut.

You can find a briefing with more details about the cuts here:

I hope you will pledge to oppose these deeply damaging cuts and call for proper investment in further education, which is the key to learning and employment for so many.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.

Myles Cook

I have only received one reply so far and here it is:

The Response

Dear Myles,

Sorry for all the separate responses to your emails! As you can see I am having a catch up day with lots of the questions that I get asked.

In regards to adult skills budget, I'm a strong believer in both lifelong learning and apprenticeships.I don't believe that improving provision for the latter should come at the cost of former. Adult education is vital for people to get the skills they need, to retrain for new work or to simply broaden their horizons. My mum spent most of her working life in adult education and I have inherited her passion and commitment to it.

The government have systematically hollowed out the funding for adult education over the last parliament which is a real loss. Labour's ambition is to put our FE colleges at the centre of a system of adult education - which fits well with both the local provision of the new South Essex College site in Grays and my ambitions to bring a Technical University to Thurrock. The party nationally has raised the prospect of funding post-19 education on a per learner basis.

Liam Byrne, who's our spokesperson on FE and skills gave a really interesting speech on Labour's thinking in this area last year, which you can read here  and reflects our ambition to promote vocational learning in government.

We all know that there are going to be difficult decisions that need to be made, whoever is in government. I can’t promise a reversal of all of these cuts, and I don’t want to promise things I can’t deliver. But I hope that we can achieve the changes we need to strengthen adult and lifelong learning. Far too many people need it for it to be a poor relation in our education system.

If you'd ever like me to give you a call please let me know as you are so engaged in a number of different issues!

Best wishes,


I will post any other replies I get or any follow-up questions I pose right here!

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