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Press Release: 12.05.09

12th May 2009
Tory alarm over education cuts.

Local Conservatives have expressed their alarm about the threat to sixth form and Further Education (FE) provision in Sittingbourne & Sheppey following news that schools and colleges face cuts to their funding because of Whitehall blundering.

Sixth form cuts: After telling schools and sixth form colleges how much funding they would receive next year for teaching 16-18 year olds, the government’s Learning and Skills Council has changed its mind. It failed to predict the number of students accurately. It has now cut school budgets across the country by up to £350,000 for sixth form colleges and £55,000 for an average school.

Local Tories Gordon Henderson and Cllr Ken Pugh are demanding action to ensure that local schools and sixth form and further education colleges will not have to turn away students next year because of this gross bureaucratic incompetence.

College building cuts: This latest catastrophe comes just weeks after the Government froze 144 further education college building projects, including those of Canterbury College. Mr Henderson is calling on the Government to come clean about what will happen to these projects.

Mr Henderson commented:
‘Just a month after reassuring schools and colleges that they would be fully funded, the Government has pulled the rug from under their feet. I am very concerned that this blunder will have a detrimental affect on Sheppey College.’

Mr Henderson’s concern was backed up by Cllr Pugh who said:
‘I understand that Canterbury College has reduced the funding available to Sheppey College and this will lead to a reduction in the number of courses offered to students. At a time when we need to improve the skills of our young people in order to cope with the recession, this is very short sighted.’

Mr Henderson also expressed his concern about the impact that the blunder would have on the provision of Further Education in Sittingbourne:

‘Canterbury College was bidding on behalf of Swale Borough council for £12 million that had been earmarked by the Learning and Skills Council towards a further education college in Sittingbourne. This was to have formed part of the Sittingbourne and Milton Regis town centre regeneration plans. I understand that this funding has now been withdrawn and Canterbury College has been forced to freeze its building projects. If true, this is a disaster for the town and the next generation of students.’

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