Sheffield college students fight for better funding with ‘Love Our Colleges’ campaign
Sheffield College has joined in with a national campaign to shout about the positives of further education.
Love Our Colleges is celebrated across the nation to promote better funding and higher pay for teachers.
The long-term push for more is due to run through to the government’s spending review in October.
Students and staff came together at the City Campus on Granville Road to take part in an action week.
The group worked to share their passion for further education and speak to others about the importance of a funding rise.
Apprentice learner voice coordinator Amy Dowling said: “It’s been ten years since colleges had an increase in funding and that’s far too long.
“That’s before I had even started - I was 15 at the time.
“There’s a bit of unconscious bias surrounding colleges- a lot of people see the direct educational route as sixth form, university and into a job, when actually sixth form isn’t for everyone.”
The Sheffield College provides both full-time and part-time academic, vocational and professional courses to over 13,000 students and apprentices.
Students within the 16-18 age bracket study just 16 hours each week, compared to 25-30 in most EU countries.
Over the last ten years college funding has fallen nationally by 30%, and 62% for adult study.
Amy said: “We’ve a lot of people at college who come in as adults, we have mature learners, people that have been made redundant and people that just fancy a change, and being able to retrain at college is the second chance that people need.”
The average pay for a further education teacher is £7,000 lower than that of a school teacher.
Sheffield College’s chief executive and principal Angela Foulkes has met with Angela Rayner MP, counc Olivia Blake and counc Abtisam Mohamed to recruit their support and boost the campaign.
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Angela said: “FE colleges provide education to 2.2m people every year and do fantastic work with employers.
“We need to raise awareness of the great work that we do and we need better funding and we need to be able to pay our staff better.”
Chair of the college governing body Seb Schmoller joined Angela in a tour of the City Campus and met with students taking part in the campaign.
He said: “The way that FE contributes to the economy has been poorly explained. “Objectively, our students are going on to work in jobs which make an enormous difference to the way in which the economy works and that’s been badly framed over the years.
“Love Our Colleges is our way of correcting that.”
Throughout the campaign, students of all ages have come onboard to spread a -positive message about their chosen path into further studies.
Student Megan Farmer made an unusual route to study BTEC Science, in the aim to become an operating department practitioner.
The 17-year-old’s GCSE equivalents from living in South Africa didn’t match up to England’s grading system, meaning she had to re-take some qualifications.
She said: “I was told I should go to college and try to find a route in there to my future.
“A lot of people don’t know about college and the courses on offer. People need to know there are places for them and they could study what they want to do in the future.”
Megan said she loved the diversity on campus which has given her the chance to discover different cultures, foods and religions.
The black students’ union officer Irene Muamba agreed.
She said: “College has so many different people who are choosing a different route into A Levels, so getting further funding into FE is going to benefit all these people who are not going the traditional way.
“I love coming into college and seeing how many different people we have and different courses for people to develop their passions.”