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College principal attacks government's 'lack of understanding' of 18-year-olds in education

A principal whose FE college is one of the hardest hit by the controversial cut in funding for 18-year-olds has called on the government to re-think the move.

Frances Wadsworth said that Croydon College has been given a “welcome stay of execution” thanks to the one-year protection announced by skills minister Matthew Hancock earlier this week.

The college had stood to lose £511,000 from its £26 million budget in the next academic year because of the cut. However, the 2 per cent cap on losses has reduced that figure to around £200,000, she said.

While the cut will “still be an issue” for the college, Ms Wadsworth said the extra year would give the government to reconsider its plans. “I’m not without some hope that now they've realised the effect the cut will have on colleges that there may be some rethinking,” she said.

Ms Wadsworth (pictured) accused ministers of a “lack of understanding” about 18-year-olds in education and attacked the lack of consultation before the announcement was made.

“Croydon is a deprived area, and as such we have a large number of young people who have dropped out of education or have had other interruptions to their learning,” she said.

“We are talking about people who need a second chance at education. A large number will become 18 on their learning journey with us.”

If the government does not back down on the cut, Croydon College, which has 8,000 students, will have to find savings “across the board”.

“It wouldn’t be fair to target 18-year-olds and cull resources from them alone because they are in courses with students of different ages,” said Ms Wadsworth. “That’s what the government doesn't understand; courses, and especially vocational courses, are not a neat package of age groups.”

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