The political profile of further education has traditionally matched its popular designation as the "Cinderella sector". But that looks likely to change at this year's Labour party conference to be held in Brighton from September 29 to October 3, with six of the 21 education resolutions reflecting concern over the sector.
Two resolutions call for wide-ranging reviews. Bristol West demands "that further education be thoroughly reviewed with regard to funding on a long-term basis, boosting the morale of staff with a recognition of their efforts in maintaining quality education in this sector against a backdrop of vicious Tory cuts and imposed time-consuming duties, and better representative governing bodies to redevelop the partnership between our further education colleges and local government".
Tatton's resolution also "urges that a national policy for adult education be devised, promoted and funded in line with the concepts of the Labour movement, eloquently propounded by Tawney more than half a century ago".
Three resolutions, from the Socialist Education Association, Wells and Saffron Walden, call for improved funding and reforms of college governance. The SEA lists "developing regional strategic plans for further education and reforming governing bodies to make them democratically accountable" as one of nine priorities in a characteristically all-encompassing resolution.
Wolverhampton South East calls for the removal of divisions and funding differentials between education and vocational training.
Higher education has a lower profile, featuring in three resolutions. Bethnal Green and Bow, looking to the likely conclusions of the Dearing review, rejects university "entry fees", arguing they "will cause inequality in higher education introducing an elitist system based on ability to pay". Cunninghame North calls for greater priority for students from non-traditional backgrounds, while Bristol West also calls for access regardless of economic status.