Should the sector do more to highlight the impact of the cost of living on learners – FE News

Poverty and hunger negatively affect students’ academic performance.

This is the argument made by Darren Hankey, Principal of Hartlepool College of Further Education, who explains how disadvantaged learners are being affected by the cost of living crisis.

In an article for Think Further, a thought leadership initiative recently launched by the Association of Colleges and educational charity NCFE, Hankey asks whether colleges and the higher education sector should do more to highlight the impact of poverty on learners.

He said: “Colleges are given £2.41 a day to help feed the most deprived students aged 16, 17 and 18. I don’t think it takes an economist or a restaurateur to realize that this is a pittance to help feed the country’s most underprivileged teenagers.

“I know a lot of colleges top up that amount – we do at Hartlepool College of FE – but arguably it’s still not enough and why should we? We do it because that’s what we do as an industry. Regardless of the diktat of policy makers, we roll up our sleeves and carry on.

“But by staying silent, aren’t we normalizing the fact that thousands of young people show up at colleges across the country every day, hungry and unable to support themselves.”

Mr Hankey highlights the important work of figures like Marcus Rashford on free school meals who challenged and succeeded in changing government policy. He also explains that with the rising costs of energy, fuel and food, more and more working households are being forced into poverty.

He adds: “Some would say that once a young person reaches university age, he can go and get a part-time job to earn extra money and that is why the poverty of children among our students does not gain much importance.At first glance, this seems like a rational suggestion until we scratch more and realize some highlights.

“First, most young people in poverty live in working households – regrettably and despite what policy makers say, work is not always a way out of poverty. Second, opportunities for young people to obtain part-time employment have declined over the past two decades or so and are not evenly distributed across the country.

“So the onus is on the colleges to pick up the pieces and is that true?”

Think Further’s aim is to provide deep insight and thought leadership on a range of topics, bringing together research-driven thoughts and blogs steeped in the experience and expertise of the continuing education industry. and skills.

To read Darren Hankey’s full article – Should Colleges Pressure Poverty – to visit

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