MP challenges minister on further education cuts

Weston-super-Mare MP John Penrose has written to Alan Johnson MP, Secretary of State for the Department for Education and Skills, about the effect of cuts in the number of Further Education training places on people over 25 in Weston.

Challenged by Mr Penrose during oral questions last week, Alan Johnson appeared to deny that places for people over 25 on courses above level 2 (GCSE) are being cut at Weston Further Education College, where Mr Penrose is a Governor, or that the cuts would have a negative effect on people over 25.

Figures acquired by Mr Penrose show the number of places for people over 25 on these courses in Weston College have been cut by well over a third (39%) from 5,307 in 2005/06 to 3,247 in 2006/07.

Mr Penrose said: “The FE sector is being forced to desert people who have traditionally relied on it to help them reskill and re-enter the workplace. Parents returning to work once their children are old enough; people who have been made redundant and need to reskill; and people nearing retirement age. I was surprised and dismayed that the Minister didn’t seem to understand the effect his policies are having in places like Weston-super-Mare. Now I’ve sent him the evidence, I hope he’ll make good on his promise to take a closer look into the matter, and perhaps he’ll think again”.

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