Funding the biggest worry for college leaders

Restrictive funding rules, staff pay and GCSE resits among biggest concerns for FE principals, according to AoC survey

The FE sector shouldn't expect much from Philip Hammond in his Autumn Budget – but there is hope for the near future, says Stephen Exley

Funding is the biggest worry for most college leaders, a new survey has revealed.

The Association of Colleges’ (AoC) annual survey of principals, in partnership with Tes, highlights the main causes of concern among England's FE providers.

And with non-apprenticeship college adult education funding having dropped by 45 per cent over the past few years – from £1.585 billion in 2009-10 to £889 million in 2016-17 – money worries are top of the list.

'Pressure has never been greater'

Principals were asked to list their top causes for concern. The restrictiveness of funding rules is the most common worry, alongside the level of staff pay (both cited by 39 per cent of respondents). Other concerns include a lack of capital funding (38 per cent) and the pressures created by the government’s English and maths GCSE-resit policy (37 per cent).

AoC president Steve Frampton, who retires as principal of Portsmouth College today, said the challenges for FE leaders “have never been greater”.

"The decline in funding, the level of change and the pressure has never been greater. I see more of my principal colleagues under pressure than I have ever seen,” he said.

In May, a Tes analysis revealed that one-in-eight colleges was in such poor financial health that it was in danger of not being able to pay its bills.

The full article is available in the 31 August edition of Tes. To subscribe, click here. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click hereTes magazine is available at all good newsagents

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