Gordon in his role as Shadow FE Minister has accused the Government of leaving Further Education institutions on the Fylde Coast without the proper, strategic support it needs to fulfil its duties to younger and older learners.
It comes on the back of the Autumn Statement, where the Chancellor claimed he was protecting educational funding for 16-19-year-olds and adult skills but in reality was cutting it – the latter being cut by £360 million.
Gordon said: “He is trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes in Blackpool with his claim of a cash terms freeze but in real terms this is a cut to funding for 16-19 education and adult skills. This comes at the same time when colleges are already facing huge upheaval and instability from area reviews and ridiculous deadlines.
“If the Government carry on down their current path, further educations providers such as Blackpool and the Fylde, Blackpool Sixth Form and Myerscough College will simply be unable to carry through opportunities, which are vital to the life chances for young and older learners on the Fylde Coast.”
He has also criticised the Government’s decision to alter the terms on how new graduates repay their student loans, breaking promises made when they increased tuition fees in 2012. The average graduate will pay £6,000 more over their lifetime, and middle earner will be hit hardest. This will even apply to students who signed up to degrees in 2012 with the original terms and conditions.
He explained: “This is actually equivalent to mis-selling because after all people signed up on this agreement in 2012. Now the government wants to basically reinvent the wheel. I’m not even sure what the legal position would be if anybody wanted to take a judicial review on it.
“The basic principle that this is going to be socially regressive because it’s going to hit people in the middle and the whole idea of this is to try to encourage people to take out loans so they will then get a reasonable salary thereafter.”
Gordon also said allowing sixth form colleges to access VAT relief by becoming academies could be “beneficial” but it was “critical” that their success and innovation wasn’t curbed by micromanagement from the Department for Education and any ideological drive to see more intuitions classed as academies.
He added: “We want to ensure that there is no loss of accountability or standards that sixth forms currently deliver.”