Hands Up - Sixth Form Members

Increased funding for 16-19 education - tackling the 22% real terms cut since 2010/11 - was one of our six specific demands to the Chancellor, to which he failed to respond in his Budget.  It is not even clear whether colleges will receive any of the £400m announced for schools to buy “little extras”, described by one head as “contemptuous”.

It is an insult to our members, who face spiralling workloads, rising class sizes, dwindling classroom resources and staff shortages, and years of under-inflation pay increases further fuelling the recruitment and retention crisis in education.

Sixth form college pay offer

The current pay offer for sixth form college teachers is 1%, which we have made clear is unacceptable and must be increased, especially given the increases for school teachers. We want the Government to extend the grant funding for teachers’ pay to all sixth form colleges, not limit it to those colleges which have taken on academy status in an evident attempt to further fragment the sector. The pay negotiations will resume when the outcome of approaches to the Government are known.

How can you support the campaign

  • Vote NOW! And if you haven't received your ballot paper, let us know. Also, please make sure your details are up-to-date, including your postal address and telephone number, so we can send you important information about the ballot. Instructions on how to update your details can be found in the FAQs below.
  • If there is a rep in your college, please help them to get staff members together to discuss the indicative ballot and campaign. If there isn’t a rep, please get together with colleagues to discuss the indicative ballot and elect an NEU rep in your college.
  • You may have colleagues who aren’t members of a union. Please encourage them to join to take part in this important indicative ballot.
  • The NEU has also joined eleven other organisations to launch the Raise the Rate campaign which specifically seeks an increase in the funding rate for sixth form students, frozen at £4,000 per student per year since 2013. Please support that campaign by visiting its webpage and taking the various actions described.

FAQs for sixth form colleges

Sixth form colleges and the rest of 16-19 education have been hit hard by Government funding cuts. Figures show that sixth form colleges received 22% less per student in real terms in 2016-17 than they did in 2010-11. Since funding is only protected in cash-terms – not in real terms, relative to inflation – the cuts are set to continue.

The cumulative impact of funding cuts since 2011 meant by November 2017 that: 50% of colleges and school sixth forms had dropped courses in modern foreign languages; 34% have dropped courses in science, technology, engineering and maths; 67% have reduced student support services or extra-curricular activities; and 77% of them had increased class sizes.

Prior to the Autumn Budget, the National Education Union alongside heads’ unions ASCL and the NAHT set the Chancellor six tests for his Budget. Increased funding for 16-19 education was among our demands. You can view these tests here.

The Chancellor continues to fail our pupils and students in schools and colleges, and, as a result, we are seeking your views about what we should do next in our campaign for more education funding.

Some may think this dispute is just about teachers’ pay. It is not. This is about a Government that has cut real-terms funding in schools and colleges since 2010; a Government that is ignoring the crisis in teacher recruitment and retention.

As a result of the extreme funding crisis our schools and colleges face, we are working together with ASCL and NAHT in the ‘Hands Up’ campaign to each consult our members about the future of the funding campaign.

An indicative ballot is a way for the union to understand what members think about an issue and if they feel strongly enough to take industrial action. The NEU rulebook stipulates that the union must undertake an indicative ballot before progressing to an industrial action ballot.

An indicative ballot is not a statutory ballot and therefore is not bound by any legal process.

Over the past two years, the union has been at the forefront of campaigning around school and college funding, as part of the highly effective School Cuts coalition. Members in sixth form colleges have been a key part of our funding campaign.

But our sixth form colleges are at breaking point and only giving the grant funding for teachers’ pay to colleges which have taken on academy status is the final straw.

That was one of the reasons why the Joint Executive Committee (JEC) of the NEU voted to undertake an indicative ballot of members in schools and sixth form colleges if the Chancellor’s Budget did not meet the six tests to help solve the crisis in education.

We will be balloting all in service teachers working in state-funded schools (this includes academies and free schools) and sixth form colleges in England.

We are aware that under-funding our schools has a detrimental impact on all our members in education, including support staff. However, we believe that the failure of this Government to fully implement and fund the School Teachers Review Body (STRB) recommendations will be the final straw for our financially struggling schools and colleges and many will simply be unable to find the money they need.

For this latter reason, the Joint Executive Council (JEC) of the NEU has taken the decision to conduct an indicative ballot of teachers and leaders for industrial action in state-funded schools and sixth form colleges in England.

However, the participation of support staff in the campaign for more funding for schools and colleges will be crucial, if we are going to stop and reverse the savage funding cuts. The teachers’ and leaders’ ballot is just one part of the ‘Hands Up’ campaign, and during the next few months we will be talking to all NEU members about how they can support and get involved in the campaign for fair funding in our schools and colleges.

If you are the school or college rep or contact, but not a teacher, we would like you to hold a meeting of all members in your school, talk to everyone about the funding campaign and encourage those eligible to vote and vote YES!

Most members will receive an email with a unique reference number to carry out their vote online. Those who don’t have a valid email address will receive a unique ID via letter for them to also vote online. Members in Coventry, Rotherham and Milton Keynes will receive a postal vote and return envelope.

For ATL Section members

  • All ATL Section members can update their details online here and login, using your username and password. If not you can complete an online web form by going here to update your details.

For NUT Section members

  • All NUT Section members can update their details online via the NUT website

For NEU members

  • All National Education Union members who joined on or after 1 September 2017 can update their details by contacting NEU head office or by calling 0345 811 8111.

When you update your details, you will automatically receive a new ballot invitation to your updated email or home address.

The indicative ballot will be open in November and will run until early January 2019.

If you haven’t received your ballot paper or email invitation by 30 November, complete the ballot enquiries form.


You will likely have teacher colleagues who are not yet union members who are supportive of our campaign on funding and want to join. Please talk to them about why they should join the NEU in your school and our longstanding campaign for professional unity; that all teachers should be united in one union. The NEU is the largest education union in Europe and represents the majority of teachers in England and Wales. This is a great opportunity to build the union in your workplace and make our voice on funding even louder.

If a new member joins and is eligible to take part in the indicative ballot, they will automatically receive an email with their unique reference number to carry out their vote online.

Support staff who join the NEU will not be included in the indicative ballot but, like other support staff members, will be able to join in and support our campaign in other ways.

New members can join for 75% off their first year’s membership fee, if they join before 31 December 2018 and haven’t been a member of the NEU, ATL, or NUT in the last 36 months. Newly Qualified colleagues can join for just £1 and trainee teachers can join for free.

If you don’t know your membership number, below are ways to find out:

  • Check your membership card, if not
  • Check with your rep, if not
  • Check any membership email or letter from NEU, if not
  • Ask your district/branch officers, if not
  • Ask your regional office or
  • Email membership

Get in touch

If the answer to your question cannot be found above, or if you haven't had an indicative ballot invitation by 30 November, please use the form to let us know.