Theresa May's post-18 review panel includes college principal

A wide-ranging review of post-18 education is expected to take a year, with an interim report published later this year

George Ryan

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A college principal is among the five members of a panel that will review the post-18 education system, Theresa May has said.

The prime minister announced a review of tertiary education at Derby College on Monday afternoon. She called for a change in the attitude that vocational training is “something for other people’s children”.

The panel will be chaired by Philip Augar, the former non-executive director of the Department for Education. Bev Robinson, principal of Blackpool and The Fylde College, is one of five panel members and said of her appointment: “I look forward to working with the chair and members of the independent panel on the review.”

'A difficult balancing act'

Mr Augar said the panel will focus on choice, value for money, access and skills provision, adding: “We begin with no preconceptions and our first priority will be a serious examination of the evidence and hearing from a broad range of stakeholders who, like us, are committed to ensuring the system works for everyone."

Chief executive of the Association of Colleges David Hughes welcomed the review but said widened access to universities had been at the expense of “fair investment in the 50 per cent of people who leave education at 18”.

He added: “Their opportunities have been hampered because of the lack of attention, leading to fewer chances, less funding and a lack of support for them to learn whilst working. The review will be a difficult balancing act. It would be wrong to damage the growth in the numbers of young people accessing three-year undergraduate degrees; however, more investment is needed to make other forms of higher education more attractive and more accessible.”

'Reverse funding cuts'

Dr Fiona Aldridge, assistant director at Learning and Work Institute, said it was imperative that the reduction in further education funding was reversed.

She added: "The evidence is clear: investing in education and skills boosts prosperity, promotes inclusion and creates opportunity. Yet, despite this, there have been substantial reductions in funding for further education in recent years, along with a collapse in adult participation in both further and higher education.

"We believe that the success of the review should be judged on whether it leads to the creation of a coherent, flexible and high-quality offer for those aged 18 and over, to develop their skills and improve their prospects throughout their lives.”

'A waste of time'

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said Theresa May had "finally admitted that her government got it wrong", adding: “This long-winded review is an unnecessary waste of time. Labour will abolish tuition fees, bring back maintenance grants and provide free, life-long education in further education colleges.”

The four other panel members are: Edward Peck, vice-chancellor of Nottingham Trent University; Baroness Wolf of Dulwich, author of the Wolf Review of vocational education; Sir Ivor Martin Crewe, master of University College, Oxford; and Jacqueline De Rojas, president of techUK and the chair of the Digital Leaders board.

The long-awaited review was a commitment in the Conservative Party’s manifesto at the last general election. The government-led review is expected to take a year, with an interim report published later in 2018.

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George Ryan

George Ryan

George Ryan is a further education reporter for tes

Find me on Twitter @GeorgeMRyan

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