Colleges face funding shortfall to help students catch up lost learning
- Credit: Archant
Norfolk colleges are facing a funding shortfall to help students catch up from months of lost face-to-face teaching.
College leaders are calling for an end to the multi-million pound penalty they say threatens to hold back students as they work to make up lost ground following the disruption to their learning caused by the pandemic.
College students on vocational and technical courses - such as hospitality, construction, engineering, motor vehicle repair and maintenance, agriculture and animal studies - have been particularly hard hit, because of the difficulties in replacing practical teaching with remote lessons.
Though college students have now returned to in-person teaching many face making up for months of lost work.
A survey of colleges by the Association of Colleges has found three quarters (77pc) of 16 to 18-year-olds are performing below normal expectations, and between one and four months behind in their studies.
The county’s largest college, City College Norwich, which includes Easton College and Paston College, has more than 6,000 16-18-year-olds who are now working to make up for the disruption.
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But supporting these students to do that is made “considerably harder” due to a drop off in funding that occurs when they reach the age of 18.
Currently, colleges receive 17.5pc less funding for students aged 18 and over as compared to those who are 16 and 17.
City College principal Corrienne Peasgood has joined other college leaders in calling for the government to guarantee a fully-funded extra catch-up year of study if students need it.
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They also want to see targeted support for the most disadvantaged students through a 16-19 student premium, similar to the pupil premium in schools.
Ms Peasgood said: “Our staff have worked incredibly hard throughout the pandemic to support students’ learning and to keep them engaged and motivated about their education.
“However, as this survey makes clear, students have lost out on crucial skills development and training, particularly those on vocational courses and on some entry-level courses.
“There is an urgent need for solutions to the problem of lost learning, so we can ensure no students are left behind.
“Fair funding for all 16 to 19 year olds, flexible programmes of extended study, and targeted funding for the most disadvantaged, will all go a long way towards achieving this.”
The call comes as many University of East Anglia students were told they will not be allowed to return to campus until mid-May at the earliest.
Students on practical courses, who require specialist equipment and facilities, began returning to face-to-face teaching on March 8.
However the Department for Education (DfE) said all remaining students will not return until further easing of restrictions, which will be no earlier than May 17.