The Henley College has expressed “disappointment” at a media report that misrepresents the current consultation on restructuring operations and roles. The consultation, part of a series of measures required by the Education and Skills Funding Agency, is aimed at dealing with an operating deficit of some £1.5 million and positioning the college so it can continue to provide excellent education and training into the future.
Principal, Satwant Deol, said: “It is very disappointing that, at a time when we we are doing our best to secure the college’s future and to deal with an historic deficit caused by funding changes, we should be painted as a harsh employer just cutting jobs. Whilst 66 job roles have indeed been identified as being “at risk” the reduction in the actual number of posts at the college will be small and will be made only once the consultation is complete. Those whose roles are “at risk” are being offered the opportunity to take voluntary redundancy or early retirement and they will also be able to apply for the new roles that are being created.
The hard truth is that we need to re-position ourselves for the future and, to do this, we are having to review the way we operate. There have been significant cuts in funding over the past few years but our costs have continued to rise. We need to reflect changes in the educational needs of our students and the economy, and to find ways to continue to deliver the very high standards for which we are renowned. We have to ensure we are providing a first class experience of education that will equip our students for the next phase of their lives whether that is at university, further training such as an apprenticeship, or work.
The measures we are proposing will strengthen the college management, improve support for students and allow us to embrace changes in teaching and learning for the benefit of our students. Some job roles will go, new roles are being created and we will have to review the provision of a very small number of courses that are no longer viable. We are confident that the changes we are proposing will put the college on a very firm footing and would hope that the community would support our actions.
The Henley College is far from being the only educational institution in this position. In it’s 2018 Spring Statement, the Association of Colleges reports that 55 per cent of colleges have a deficit budget, according to the latest figures available. Funding for 16-18 students has been cut by 12% in the past seven years. Some schools and colleges have been in austerity measures for many years and have undergone repeated restructures; others are currently losing very significant numbers of staff and cutting courses. The Henley College still has capital reserves, it is the annual running costs of the college that are exceeding the income from government funding and other sources.”
Catharine Darnton, Gillotts Headteacher and The Henley College Governor, who has highlighted the funding challenges faced by her own school, said, “These are difficult financial times for all educational institutions and their leaders and governors are being faced with hard choices. It is important to make sure we are well informed and then to make right decisions to secure future success and I am confident that the College has this well in hand.”
Chair of The Henley College Governors, Peter le Conte added, “We are working closely with the ESFA to ensure the college’s successful future – and to continue delivering a great educational experience for our students. The Henley College simply exists to provide a great educational experience for all its students. The leadership team and the governors care passionately about this. This passion is also in the DNA of our staff. In tough financial times it is essential to balance what we can afford for our students versus what we receive from government. By making some difficult changes now, we work to ensure that our current and future students will continue to get the very best educational experience that we can offer.”
John Howell MP said, “The Henley College is one of the very best institutions in Henley and we must all help it get rid of its deficit in the most efficient way. I visited the College only last Friday and had a good conversation about its exciting plans for the future. I am really excited by what it is aiming to do and the work it is doing for apprenticeships. We discussed what help I could usefully provide them and the introductions I could make. I am looking forward to working with the College.”
Satwant added, “We are immensely proud of The Henley College and our track record in providing the widest curriculum offer in the area as well as our continuing excellent achievement levels. Our stated aim is to continue to be an outstanding college at the heart of our community and we are taking measures to ensure this happens. We really hope that the community, including our Alumni, will be able to support us and we are keen to hear from anyone who may be able to offer practical support.
Anyone considering applying to The Henley College can be assured of a welcoming environment and a broad range of curriculum options as well as many opportunities for self development through enrichment activities such as drama, sport and community engagement.”