BAKERY colleges nationwide are struggling to obtain funding and senior tutors are being put under threat of redundancy and early retirement. Jane Hatton, co-ordinator for bakery and sugar courses at Brooklands, who is widely known throughout the industry and acts as a national examiner for external students, has been given notice of ‘high risk redundancy’ by the Surrey-based college.
She told British Baker: “Nationwide, the funding has been virtually stopped for adult students aged 19 upwards. The government has decided to almost exclusively fund training for 14-19-year-olds.
“The impact on this and many colleges will be that many bakery and confectionery adult courses for over-19s will have to be fully costed.” At Brooklands it means that an adult student course, which was last year subsidised and cost £150, will now cost over £700.
Hatton said: “At Brooklands most of the adult students are people re-training and starting their own business or going into industry.” She added that some students start in general catering and decide later to specialise.
Some funding will remain for bakery NVQ courses, but older students wishing to study sugarcraft will now find there is no government funding for their courses.
As a compromise, she has offered to reduce the number of hours and therefore the cost of adult student sugarcraft courses but says: “We must still offer enough quality tuition to allow them to take an accredited exam and not just a certificate of course attendance.”
Hatton added: “All the colleges I have visited as an examiner are dropping out of Awarding Body Consortium (ABC) accredited courses, it is very worrying indeed.” In the past year, Brooklands has taught 65 adult sugarcraft students and 50 bakery students.
At Blackburn college the catering facility has been re-built but despite the fact that head tutor Ian Sutherland and his team have taught many award-winning craft bakery students the facility has been built without a test bakery. Students are continuing to use the old bakery.
Sutherland told British Baker: “We want to teach people the skills to make bread, identify problems, hand mould – it is the only way to cope if there is a problem with machinery – and we want them to enjoy using their skills and not just become operatives.”
He added: “At the age of 19 students are more likely to decide they want to learn a trade; it’s a good age to target. But unless things turn around we will not be offering full-time bakery courses to students of all ages as the funding is no longer there.”
At Thomas Danby College in Leeds head bakery tutor John Hilton has accepted early retirement. The college has been asked to increase numbers of 16-18 year old part-timers mid-year, which has caused ‘challenges’, according to Gordon Sibbald, assistant director of vocational skills.
President of the National Federation of Bakery Students, Paul Morrow, said: “Whether it be due to the extension of vocational training for 14-19 years olds or as a result of
Improve setting up centres of excellence for bakery, no one knows what bakery training and education will look like in the future.
I think therefore it is unfortunate, and short sighted, that any existing training options are withdrawn before there is more clarity about the future role of college-based bakery education. It would be very difficult to reinstate courses or departments once they have been disbanded and experienced staff lost.”