Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Cambridge Sixth Form Students' Funding Fight Gains Lib Dem MP's Backing

A campaign led by fund-raiser, Callum Fairhurst to get more money from the government for Cambridge’s Long Road Sixth Form College has secured the backing of the city’s MP Julian Huppert.

Callum, who has raised many thousands of pounds for charity, and members of the college’s Student Committee are calling on Education Minister, Michael Gove to visit the college to see how funding restraints are affecting students and staff.

Julian, who has been campaigning for many years to get a fairer deal for Cambridge’s sixth form colleges, has promised to do everything in his power to encourage Mr Gove to engage with the students.

He is a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Sixth Form Colleges established to protect the future of colleges nationwide and has raised the issue in Parliament on many occasions.

In a letter to Mr Gove the Long Road Sixth Form College students explained how the college is in the bottom 10 per cent when it comes to funding, receiving just £4,226 for each student.

The college has recently been given capital funding of £890,000, far short of the £1.5 million it applied for, say students.

And they have asked Mr Gove to explain why the college has to pay 20 per cent VAT when sixth forms attached to schools are exempt.

“We would like you to see first-hand the constraints in which we are working,” the students told Mr Gove in their letter.

“Let us just remind you, in 2012 you said ‘Making sure a child spends the maximum amount of time with inspirational teachers is the most important thing’ and we agree, but with poor funding and issues such as having to pay VAT, vital money is being diverted from allowing our inspiring teachers to do their job.

“There is absolutely no justification for this significant short funding and it is clear we are being disadvantaged.”

Julian said: “Year on year our sixth form colleges and Cambridge Regional College produce excellent results and offer a wide range of courses for students despite receiving well below the funding they should have.

 “These students have clearly set out the problems that the lack of proper funding creates on the ground with overcrowded classrooms and the huge VAT bills the college faces. Long Road Sixth Form College was promised a rebuild under the last government - but they then abruptly cancelled that, leaving the college with huge costs and no new buildings.

“I will do everything I can to make sure Mr Gove listens to what they are saying. Our colleges and its students and teaching staff deserve so much more than the government is offering.

“I congratulate these students for taking up this issue and hope they will get the chance to put their questions directly to the Minister.”