Bedford College boss goes to Dollywood for funding plea

Ian Pryce has reworked a classic song
Ian Pryce has reworked a classic song

Bedford College principal Ian Pryce is hitting the headlines with his version of Dolly Parton hit Jolene.

The lyrics to the country singer’s most famous song have been adapted in a plea for more funding for colleges and aimed at Education Secretary Justine Greening.

The re-worked lyrics, titled Justne, include the lines: “We work so hard we hardly sleep, there’s nothing we can do to keep our staff they’re leaving every week, Justine.

“You could get to Number 10 but then we might get Gove again, you’re the only one for us Justine.”

Ian Pryce is better known for putting the town on the map by having led Bedford College from a vocational training centre, to one of the largest FE colleges in the UK. During those two decades he has continued his spare time musical career, and has now come out with the recording on behalf of the neglected 16+ college sector.

Having tweeted the recording, the song has already been a hit with FE sector commentators and is rising up the Twitter charts.

Said Ian, guitarist and vocalist: “We thought making a serious point in a humorous way might get it noticed. The Association of Colleges has made an unanswerable case for a fairer deal for our students.

“We are key to post-Brexit Britain yet our funding is much lower than that of schools and Universities.

“We’re hoping our Secretary of State will be persuaded. Maybe she could respond positively to colleges in a similar vein with another Dolly standard ‘I Will Always Love You’! ”

The song was released online ahead of the Association of Colleges’ annual conference on Tuesday (Nov 14th), which Ms Greening will not be attending this year.

Mr Pryce told the Times Education Supplement he recorded the song during a coffee break on Friday with the help of college technicians and his former PA.

Listen to the song here.