Sajid Javid pledges £400m further education funding

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Chancellor of the ExchequerImage source, Reuters
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The chancellor said it was a further education college that equipped him "with the qualifications needed to pursue my ambitions"

The chancellor is to announce £400m of additional funding for further education in England, as part of his spending review next week.

Writing in the Guardian, Sajid Javid said the money - for the year 2020 to 2021 - would support the introduction of the new T-level qualifications.

He vowed to treat colleges "with the seriousness they deserve".

It comes after the government announced billions of pounds in extra funding for England's schools.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said the funding would help cover costs, including pensions, and would help young people "get the skills to get the right jobs".

T-levels are a new two-year qualification being introduced in England next September. They will give 16 to 19-year-olds a mix of classroom learning and "on the job" experience.

The qualifications, in subjects including accountancy and catering, have been developed in collaboration with industry.

The £400m sum will help fund new technical and vocational qualifications as well as "more expensive" courses such as science, engineering and mathematics, said Mr Javid.

"I want this investment to start to end the snobbishness in some quarters about the quality and importance of a vocational education," he added.

"It was an FE college that equipped me with the qualifications needed to pursue my ambitions.

"We'll make a strong statement in backing it at next week's spending round and I'll continue to look at what more we can do to help, just as my FE college opened my horizons and set me on my way."

Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, welcomed Mr Javid's funding boost pledge.

"We hear a lot about schools. We hear a lot about universities but it's actually the further education sector which has had the biggest cuts since 2010," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

However, the decision has been met with scepticism from Geoff Barton, leader of the ASCL head teachers' union.

He said there are already qualifications in place - such as BTECs - that are costly and require funding.

"Unless this money is going in to help colleges with those young people, on those very expensive courses, then it will look like a missed opportunity," he said.

Some cautioned that investment needed to be long term.

Lowell Williams, chief executive of Dudley College, told the BBC: "If it's just a one-off then, while it's most welcome, it won't have the impact that we need."