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Principal covers Dolly Parton hit to plead for funding

The lyrics of one of the country singer's best-known songs have been tweaked by Bedford College principal Ian Pryce to make a personal appeal to the education secretary

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The lyrics of one of the country singer's best-known songs have been tweaked by Bedford College principal Ian Pryce to make a personal appeal to the education secretary

One of Dolly Parton’s biggest hits Jolene has been adapted into a song dedicated to education secretary Justine Greening, in what has become an unlikely anthem for campaigners demanding more funding for further education.

Ian Pryce, principal of Bedford College, has recorded a new humorous version of the song, called Justine, which bemoans the financial struggles and staff recruitment difficulties faced by college. The song can be heard here.

Mr Pryce pleads: “Justine, Justine, Justine, Justine, please don't hurt us just because you can”. The song adds: “Our funding it does not compare with schools it's really so unfair, if only you would show you care, Justine.”

'Please don't take us down'

The Bedford College boss told Tes he recorded the song on Friday with the college technicians and his former PA during a coffee break.

The college boss sings: “We work so hard we hardly sleep, there's nothing we can do to keep our staff they're leaving every week, Justine.”

The witty bid to catch the attention of the education secretary continues: “You could get to Number 10 but then we might get Gove again, you're the only one for us Justine.”

The song includes a number of barbed references to the plight of colleges, with lyrics including “Can’t take another funding freeze, we're begging you we're on our knees” and ends “Justine, Justine, Justine, Justine, I’m begging of you, please don’t take us down.”

The song has been released online just ahead of the Association of Colleges’ annual conference on Tuesday, which Ms Greening will not be attending this year.

The Dolly Parton cover has been well received. One fan, Smita Jamdar, partner and head of education at law firm Shakespeare Martineau, tweeted: “There are literally no words for how fantastic this is. Needs an award for the most innovative, engaging attempt to influence policy.”

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