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When Jemma Coe was a schoolgirl in Great Yarmouth, she was in no state of mind to learn. She describes her younger self as “troubled” – a child who teachers were not able to reach and who dropped out of school at 15 without any qualifications. “I was in chaos,” she says.

But Jemma, now 24 and a single mother to a three-year-old daughter, is back in the classroom and wants to learn. She was finally beginning to find her feet – only to discover that her course is to be closed because of government-imposed funding cuts.

Coe is one of 2.7 million people who benefit each year, full-time or part-time, from further education (FE). Their Further Education was a second chance to learn when they are better equipped to make the most of the opportunity.

On Wednesday, as part of his spending review, the chancellor is expected to announce further drastic cuts to FE budgets, which were already reduced by 14% in the last parliament.

Coe, who is studying functional skills in maths and English at Great Yarmouth College (GYC) in the hope of getting an apprenticeship and finding work in an office, has been told that because of the cuts, her course is likely to end in February.

“I never got the education I would have liked,” says Amy Kelly, a serious-minded 30-year-old now studying to become a nurse, who was affected by her parents divorce when she was at school “I don’t feel I had the opportunity in school or the encouragement from my mum who was on her own.”

“I believe people grossly underestimate the impact of colleges. The new government was keen to stress how education budgets would be protected but it seems only if you are under 16.”


To read about more of the people in the same position as Jemma Coe and Amy Kelly, or to read the full article go to