College cash cut will hit special needs students

PUBLISHED: 07:46 15 June 2006 | UPDATED: 09:27 24 May 2010

COLLEGE students are set to lose out because of massive funding cuts. Special needs and adult pupils at Weston College will be hit after £1million was slashed from course budgets for the next academic year, according to Weston MP John Penrose. Mr Penrose,

COLLEGE students are set to lose out because of massive funding cuts.Special needs and adult pupils at Weston College will be hit after £1million was slashed from course budgets for the next academic year, according to Weston MP John Penrose.Mr Penrose, who has been a college governor for two years, is concerned the employment chances of many of the 744 special needs students at the Knightstone Road site will be damaged by the cuts. The £1m is made up of a £700,000 reduction in cash compared to last year, plus extra funding the college should have received because of inflation and a growth in the number of students.Money for colleges in the area is handed out by the Learning Skills Council (LSC) South West on behalf of the Government.Mr Penrose said the Additional Learning Support Grant to Weston, which funds courses for students with special needs, has been cut by £650,000. Cash for adult courses has also been chopped by £350,000, said Mr Penrose.College principal Dr Paul Phillips has vowed not to reduce the number of courses for special needs pupils, but he said the length of these will have to be reduced by 20 per cent to around 600 hours a year. He said this is still more than the average length of similar courses in other colleges.The LSC had originally proposed to grant the college £14.7m but increased this to £15.4m after negotiations with Mr Penrose and college chiefs.Mr Penrose said: "I am pleased we have improved the overall financial settlement, but it is still bad news because the Additional Learning Support grant, which has been increased in the South West, has been cut in Weston. "This is particularly bad news for special needs students who need extra support to get the qualifications they need for employment in later life."Dr Phillips said: "Every college in the country has had cuts and I do not think Weston College is worse off than others. The college will have to be more selective about what it runs in the future."We have worked very closely with the LSC which has supported the college throughout the process.

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