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MPs support lecturers on pay

Most backbench MPs say college lecturers are under-paid and should get at least as much as schoolteachers, a survey for the Association of Colleges has revealed.

Publication of the findings this week coincides with a call from the most senior adviser to ministers for urgent action to close the 12 per cent pay gap with schools.

John Harwood, chief executive of the Learning and Skills Council, told a conference in London: "I am deeply worried that the average salary of teachers has declined from 130 per cent of the national average wage in the past four to five years."

He warned that without better pay - among a range of improvements costing an extra pound;16 billion over eight years - Britain would not be in the top 10 of the international league for learning.

The survey of MPs, carried out by the Harris MPs Panel, showed that two-thirds (66 per cent) of MPs thought lecturers should be paid the same as teachers, while a quarter (25 per cent) reckoned they should get more.

David Gibson, chief executive of the AOC, told FE Focus: "We accept that the Government is putting new money into the sector. However, it is not enabling colleges to tackle pay. It is not coming in to core funds."

The Government could not have a seamless 14 to 19 education system while pay differences remained, he added. Part of the problem was that schools received more money to do the work, particularly A-levels, where they received an extra pound;1,000 per pupil.

Four out of five MPs said colleges should get the same funds as schools for A-level students.

There was also considerable backing for education maintenance allowances which are currently available to just 100,000 students. Three out of four MPs said they should be available nationally for all 16 to 19-year-olds who qualify.

But there were strong divisions on party lines over EMAs. While 88 per cent of Labour members backed national entitlement to means-tested allowances, only 37 per cent of Tories did so.

Plea for post-16 funds, 33

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