BARELY months after an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted accolade, a shock government funding cut has led Chichester College to consider more redundancies.
The college received £26m from the Skills Funding Agency and the Education Funding Agency this year, but is set to receive £2.2m less next year.
Principal Shelagh Legrave said the college had been left trying to make savings across the board, with a consultation currently being held on cutting staff.
“Although we were expecting a large funding cut, we weren’t expecting that much,” she said, adding a cut of £1m had been exprected.
The college discovered in March its funding was to be cut even more, the same month inspectors graded it ‘outstanding’.
“It was really disappointing to celebrate such an outstanding result and then to say ‘but I’m afraid we’ve got a massive funding cut’. It’s been really horrible,” Mrs Legrave said.
She pointed out there was a change to the formula used to calculate the grant this year, adding a number of colleges were in a much worse position than Chichester.
“We’ve had two rounds of redundancies since Ofsted, which is a tragedy really.”
In the first round of redundancies earlier this year, she said the college lost the equivalent of seven full-time posts. A second consultation is ongoing, with the equivalent of 12.5 full-time posts to go.
However, more than 12 people will be affected.
“What we have to do is continue to provide most of our curriculum,” said Mrs Legrave. “Where we’re proposing to make cuts is where we have reducing student numbers and some small groups, plus some business support areas and some managers.”
She said it had been a difficult time for everyone at Chichester College.
“It’s been really painful and creates uncertainty. We’re desperate to get to a situation where we don’t have to make redundancies.”
She said part of the problem was that former secretary of state for education Michael Gove had ring-fenced school funding, meaning only funding for 16 to 18-year-olds could be cut.
She said the college’s annual turnover was £50m, adding it was ‘still a solvent organisation’.
“The main message is we’re not cutting any curriculum areas in total. Some are having to be reduced slightly and in some cases we’re offering alternatives,” she said.
She would not comment on which specific areas were likely to be affected.