The way the government has treated college staff is “disgraceful”, according to Jeremy Corbyn, who has called for a funded pay rise for FE teachers, lecturers and staff.
Addressing a 3,000-strong crowd in Parliament Square for the #LoveOurColleges rally, the Labour leader said that college staff had seen their pay and conditions deteriorate because of a lack of investment from the Conservative and coalition governments.
In August, the Department for Education indicated that it would not stump up extra cash to fund a pay rise for college teachers and staff, despite promising to fund part of a pay rise for school teachers.
Mr Corbyn said: “I have to say the way those staff have been treated by this government is disgraceful and the way college lecturers have seen their pay and conditions deteriorate over many years.”
The rally followed a march through central London by staff and students from colleges across England, while the Association of Colleges and college leaders lobbied MPs for better FE funding. The day of action forms part of the first Colleges Week.
'Fund adult education through corporation tax rise'
Mr Corbyn repeated the pledge he made to the Labour Party conference to increase corporation tax to fund college, adult and higher education fees in the party’s next manifesto.
He added: “We were absolutely right to say we will increase corporation tax in order to end university, college and adult education fees for all time.
“Unless we fund our colleges properly, treat college staff properly and give young people the chance to study the variety of courses that they want to then the skilled workers of tomorrow are simply being denied that chance unless their parents are wealthy enough to buy something for them.”
Colleges are 'very, very important'
He added: “I support this demonstration because college education is very, very important. It is the pathway to liberation for many of our young people.
“It is the pathway for older people to discover new things about themselves and new subjects and opportunities. Or indeed a career change if that is what they want to do.
“It is also an area where many people work. I also pay tribute to all the staff that work in the colleges, the cleaners, the catering, the admin as well as the lecturers and the technical staff in those colleges."
Rayner: 'Bring back EMA'
Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner also addressed the crowd and said Labour want to invest in Britain for our future. “Because for every pound we spend on education will deliver for our economy of the future and for our communities,” she added.
She challenged the government to bring back the education maintenance allowance for 16- to 19-year-olds, adding: “We know that those students need that support to maintain themselves in education in our colleges. But this government said ‘no’. They’re not willing to take the action that our children and young people deserve. But we are willing. We are ready.”