Manchester Withington MP Jeff Smith spoke in a debate in Parliament on the Government’s reforms to Further Education provision in Greater Manchester.
The Government is undertaking Further Education Area Reviews across the country, designed to ‘enable a transition towards fewer, larger, more resilient and efficient providers’.
Greater Manchester is one of the areas undergoing a review and the Steering Committee is currently developing recommendations on the future of Further Education in the city region.
The process has been criticised as being led by efforts to cut costs as opposed to raising educational standards. Jeff and other Greater Manchester MPs argued that the process focused almost entirely on merging and closing colleges to save money, instead of working with colleges to ensure that the needs of students and the local economy are met.
Speaking in the debate, Jeff said: ‘Further education plays a vital role in our local economies and our communities. It can boost growth and drive social mobility.
The Greater Manchester Area Review is a process that should serve the needs of students and the local economy, not the needs of the Government to cut budgets.
The Government is yet to come up with a convincing plan that will give us the confidence that we have a Further Education sector fit for the job of equipping our residents for the future.’
Read Jeff’s speech in full here.