On Tuesday 16th November 2021 Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green delivered a speech to the Association of College’s annual conference. Kate Green has been the Labour Party Member of Parliament (MP) for Stretford and Urmston since 2010. She has been Shadow Secretary of State for Education since 2020.
Kate Green opened her speech by praising teachers, lecturers, support staff and college leaders for their efforts in keeping children in education throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Shadow Education Secretary emphasised the importance of investing in skills that prepare young people for the working world. She cited the statistic that four in ten young people are leaving education without the qualification levels they need.
Education and training opportunities were cited as the ‘backbone of a strong economy and Kate Green reiterated the need to enable more young people to leave school and college with the qualifications they need for work and life and to enable adults to retrain and reskill at any point of their life, to meet the demands of an ever-changing economy and workplace.
The Labour Shadow Minister welcomed the introduction of T-levels but also highlighted the danger of reducing opportunities. The Shadow Education Secretary argued that ‘T levels won’t be right for all students’ and by asking students to specialise too early, there is a danger that student choice will be reduced, especially for the most marginalised.
Kate Green cited the ‘over-hasty removal of most BTECs’ as holding young people back from achieving the qualifications they need. She praised Ministers for delaying the de-funding of BTECs but urged Ministers to support a four-year moratorium on scrapping BTECs. Kate Green argued the uncertainty surrounding which BTECs will still be in place is undermines confidence among employers and students.
She concluded by emphasising that Labour is wholeheartedly committed to a world-class vocational education system where opportunities to earn, learn, and develop new skills are available to all.