Magazine article Public Finance

Kelly Pledges to Close the FE Funding Gap

Magazine article Public Finance

Kelly Pledges to Close the FE Funding Gap

Article excerpt

The 13% funding gap between English further education colleges and schools will be reduced and the problems highlighted by Sir Andrew Foster's inquiry into the FE sector will be tackled, Ruth Kelly has vowed.

The education secretary told delegates at the Association of Colleges' annual conference on November 16 that she accepted the gap caused resentment.

She promised to tackle it as part of a broader programme of reform to get to grips with the challenges raised by Foster's excellent' report, which he launched at the conference the day before.

Kelly pledged to reduce the gap, based on comparing funding levels for pupils following similar courses, by five percentage points to 8% by 2006/07. That would be achieved by increased investment, changes to funding formulas and the introduction of a minimum funding guarantee for young people at FE colleges from next year.

The gap should narrow further to 5% by 2008, when schools would be put on the same footing as FE colleges and no longer receive cash for pupils who have dropped out. But Kelly gave no timetable for achieving funding parity.

'I feel as strongly as you that the gap is both unfair and an obstacle,' she told the conference in Birmingham. 'I think you will recognise that I can't solve the problem overnight, but I am determined to tackle it as rapidly as we can. …

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