FE to take centre stage under Labour

Shadow Education secretary Angela Rayner yesterday spoke of her determination to place FE and apprenticeships at the heart of a future Labour administration. Speaking to a gathering at Leeds City College, she said FE gave chances to young people that wouldn’t otherwise get ahead.

“I’ve been deliberately trying not to talk about higher education today. I came here today to a further education establishment, an amazing establishment here in Leeds, and I’ve talked about my personal story because many politicians have talked about parity of esteem, but they’ve not touched FE.

“They’ve never felt the transformative effect that FE has. When I was a mum at 16, I was made to feel that ‘that’s it, there’s nothing left of me’. I had failed at secondary school and there was no option for me to go back and to be good at anything, whereas FE gave me the opportunity to get a vocational qualification in care, so I was able to go back into the workforce on a part time basis and then full time.


‘Transformative effect’

“For the first time, I fell in love with learning. Before that, I never felt good enough. That’s what FE does. That’s the transformative effect. So forgive me that I’m not talking about higher education today, but it’s because I genuinely believe in parity of esteem and if I talk about higher education everybody talks about that and leaves FE behind, and that frustrates me.

“If Labour are in power on June 9, I will be the education secretary, I will say that parity of esteem for FE and apprenticeships means something to me. It genuinely means something to me, because I am that working-class kid from a council house that was written off at 16, that was told you’ll never be good at anything, and I want all of those children up and down the country to know they are amazing, they are what makes Britain great, and with me as their secretary of state for education.

“I will ensure that they reach their full potential and if that’s through an FE, higher education, or through an apprenticeship route. I will make sure that option is open to them.

“And for the mums and dads that are my age that feel like that’s it for them, that they’re in a job, they’re not going to be able to afford to go back to adult learning, under Labour you will. If you at nine were saying ‘I want to be a nurse, I want to be a teacher’ and you have had those dreams snatched away from you, under Labour, those dreams can become a reality. It doesn’t stop at age 16 or 20.”