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Time to close funding gap

Readers will have followed with interest the debate conducted in FE Focus regarding the crisis in the funding of adult provision.

It is the responsibility of government to determine education and training priorities, and to determine where to target the inevitably limited resources.

However, in the view of the Association for College Management, the funding cuts for adult provision are misguided and substantially misdirected.

Had ministers targeted only leisure provision and relatively prosperous learners, as they claim, they would have a strong case for the proper use of public funds. But our evidence suggests that this is not the effect of the current policy. For example, an initiative at Newham college, in east London, which meets the needs of employers and disadvantaged people, is under threat because of current funding changes. Yet this is exactly the provision, exactly the learners, encouraged by ministerial basic skills and employment skills policies.

One way to improve policy implementation in the future must be to involve the sector's representative bodies in strategic planning and implementation at an early stage. Until that happens, ministers can expect a hard time when their well-principled policies are poorly put into practice.

The Government must assess the wisdom and justice of perpetuating the funding gap between schools and colleges. But if there is no political will to achieve parity, then ministers should not expect, or demand, the same level of performance from the parts of the sector that remain underfunded.

Peter Pendle

Chief executive and general secretary Association for College Management

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