Colleges may need extra upfront cash to deal with anticipated growth in student numbers, a Department for Education minister has suggested.
In a Westminster Hall debate on Catholic sixth-form colleges this morning, school standards minister Nick Gibb told MPs that the Department will look to the spending review to help colleges cope with this expected demographic surge.
In November, the chief executive of the Sixth Form Colleges Association, Bill Watkin, warned that the FE sector needed to prepare for a demographic surge that would see a significant rise in the number of young people.
'Extra upfront investment'
Speaking today, Mr Gibb said: “We recognise though that there is an important challenge facing sixth form colleges in many areas over the coming years to prepare for the anticipated increase in student numbers, and that increase is an opportunity to recruit additional students and the associated increased funding.
“But in some cases it needs extra upfront investment, for example, to build new classrooms. So we will look carefully in the spending review at how we can help colleges to prepare for the increases in student numbers that many of them are now anticipating.”
On the recent teacher’s pay rise not extending to FE colleges or sixth form colleges, Mr Gibb said colleges have a different legal status and relationship to government compared to maintained schools or academies, and, as such, they were not covered by the recommendations of the School Teachers’ Review Body.
He added: “We concluded then that we could not extend the teachers’ pay grant to colleges. We are considering colleges' needs separately ahead of the coming spending review to help make the case for the best FE funding and the government is concerned about making sure that FE colleges can attract and retain the staff they need to deliver high-quality education.”