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Further Education: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL6129, tabled on 24 June 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to enable colleges to reopen safely; and what assessment they have made of the remarks by the Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges that colleges face a £2 billion income loss next year and some will go bankrupt unless they receive emergency help.

Answered on

8 July 2020

Many further education providers are already open for 16 to 19 learners on the first year of a two-year study programme and all learners under 19 years old can be offered a face-to-face meeting before the end of the summer term - subject to the required safety measures being met. Our guidance on how to phase the return of learners in further education is underpinned by our latest understanding of COVID-19 and we will continue to be led by the scientific evidence.

From Autumn 2020, all learners, including those who are 16 to 19 and adults will return to a full high-quality education programme delivered by their college or post 16 learning provider. This is as well as continuing to re-introduce face to-face support for 16 to 19 learners who are:

  • in their first year of a study programme
  • taking their exams next year

Colleges should plan on the basis that, from September 2020, all learners will return to a full high-quality education programme.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) will continue to pay grant funded providers their scheduled monthly profiled payments for the remainder of the 2019/20 funding year and for 2020/21 which should give colleges the security of their agreed funding allocations. For colleges that are experiencing significant financial difficulties, the existing support arrangements remain in place, including short-term emergency funding. The further education commissioner and his highly experienced team are able to talk through plans, concerns and issues as are local ESFA teams.

My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister announced a £1 billion support package for schools to help pupils catch up on lost teaching time. It is our ambition that all students have the chance to make up for lost education and where breaks in learning have been required, we want to ensure learners can resume their ‘classroom’ learning and continue to a successful completion. We will continue to work with the sector to establish the best way to support students to make up for the disruption due to COVID-19.