THE head of Bishop Auckland College is joining a national campaign to protect adult learning from Government funding cuts.

College principal Joanna Tait will join a countrywide lobby travelling to Westminster on Wednesday for the Association of Colleges' National Parliamentary Day.

She said: "We feel very strongly that adult learning should be protected. It is not fair that schools and universities should get priority funding.

"Adult learning is often a second chance for people to return to education after missing out when younger.

"Our college is very proud of the role it plays in providing adult education to our local community and we want to ensure that we are able to maintain the same high standards in the future."

Dr John Brennan, Association of Colleges chief executive, said: "Future economic success will depend on retraining the current workforce. As people live longer, they will need to work longer and a society at work needs outlets to learn. This won't happen in future if adult learning goes now. If we don't protect this provision, we will pay later."

Bishop Auckland staff and students have signed a union-organised Fair Funding petition calling for an end to a funding gap, which costs colleges an average of £500,000 a year because they are paid ten per cent less than schools for educating 15 to 19 year-olds.