I used my first day back in Parliament to support the Raise the Rate campaign aimed at increasing education funding for 16 to 18 year olds.
Sometimes when I speak to young people they are surprised to hear that I didn’t do very well in my GCSEs, I got no A-Cs. Fortunately, I was given a second chance in Further Education by Accrington and Rossendale College in Lancashire. Without that second chance, there is no way I would have been the first person in my family to go to university or be where I am today and that is why I am incredibly worried about the difficulties our further education colleges are facing.
Attending the event organised by the Raise the Rate campaign to call for the government to increase the core funding rate for 16 to 18 year old students from £4,000 per year to at least £4,760 per year.
Deep cuts to sixth form funding were made after the Conservatives gained power in 2010 and the funding rate has been frozen at £4,000 since 2013. A recent survey for the Raise the Rate campaign found that funding pressures had led 51% of schools and colleges across England to cut courses in languages and 78% to reduce student support services or extra-curricular activities. Over three quarters (76%) of schools and colleges reported that the funding they are due to receive this year will not be sufficient to provide the support required by disadvantaged students.
Last week, I joined a cross-party group of 93 MPs in signing a letter to Chancellor Sajid Javid urging him to increase the funding rate. Last Saturday, the government announced that it would do so in today’s (Wednesday’s) spending review, but the increase is likely to be around £200 per student – well short of the £760 per student boost that I, the Raise the Rate campaign and Parliament’s education select committee is calling for.
I’m supporting the Raise the Rate campaign to ensure that the excellent schools, sixth forms and colleges in Lewisham Deptford receive the funding they need to deliver a world class education to our young people. The funding announced by the Chancellor today is welcome, but it falls well short of what is needed.
I will be continuing to campaign for proper funding for our education system, so that every child in Lewisham Deptford gets the education that they deserve.