Singing principal records tribute to 'FE champion'

Bedford College's Ian Pryce switches Dolly Parton for Katy Perry, in a tribute to AoC president Alison Birkinshaw


Katy Perry cover used in tribute to FE champion

With more and more lobbyists battling for the ear of ministers, it’s difficult for the FE sector – long unappreciated and under-funded – to make itself heard.

But one college principal has a knack for attracting attention to his calls for fair funding for the sector.  In November, Bedford College principal Ian Pryce attracted national attention for his song Justine – a cover of Dolly Parton’s Jolene, adapted as a plea to then education secretary Justine Greening for an improved settlement for the FE sector.

Now, Pryce has returned to the recording studio with his technicians-come-backing vocalists to produce a new song. This time, it’s a paean to outgoing Association of Colleges’ (AoC) president Alison Birkinshaw.

Pryce has recorded a cover version of Katy Perry’s Roar¸titled FE Roar (I’m Alison Birkinshaw).

During her stint as AoC president, York College principal Birkinshaw has campaigned vociferously for extra funding for the sector, and also for an end to the GCSE resits policy.

'We' won't sit quietly'

In his musical tribute, Pryce sings: “We used to bite our tongue and suck it up/But we’ve reached that point, we’ve had enough/We won’t sit quietly, or act politely.”

He continues: “They put us down but we stood up/Told them bluntly we don’t get enough/When things get tough I’m standing tall/Making sure we get more capital.We won’t give up, we won’t give up.”

And in the chorus, Pryce sings: “We’ve got our eye on big prizes, I’m fighting, arguing for funding/Cos I’m FE’s champion, I’m Alison Birkinshaw/Prouder, our voice is now louder/The colleges’ champion, I’m Alison Birkinshaw.”

'Championing our cause'

Prcye tells Tes: “Alison started her year with an excellent AoC conference speech and has been a strong media presence, worked hard for us all, and made a great case for better funding throughout her year in office.

“Katy Perry’s song seems always to be on the radio and the lyrics felt appropriate for colleges needing to be more self-confident and louder in championing our cause. It was a lovely coincidence that Alison’s surname fitted so perfectly into the chorus.”

In response, Birkinshaw told Tes: “This came as a complete surprise and, unusually for me, I am lost for words! Ian is a very talented musician and I am deeply flattered that he has spent time writing this. I hope that I have played a small part in highlighting the wonderful work of our sector and the fact that we can only do what we do well if we are funded properly. If Ian’s song gets us a bit more publicity for our cause, then I am delighted.”

And the new AoC president Steve Frampton, principal of Portsmouth College, has been warned that he could be next in line for the Pryce treatment.


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