It is to the Government’s shame that cuts to 16-19 funding have been deeper and have gone on for longer than any other school sector. The Education Select Committee has said that funding per student fell by a full 16% in real terms between 2010–11 and 2018–19 – twice the fall in school funding (8%). There is currently an overall £700 million shortfall in funding for Post 16 Education.
Teaching staff numbers and support staff posts have fallen significantly due to the real-terms cuts, while at the same time student numbers have risen. This weighs heavily on our members’ workload and is putting the future of Sixth Form Colleges under serious threat. If the crisis continues to go unaddressed, it is students’ education that will suffer.
The NEU is arguing for the pay of Sixth Form College teachers and support staff to be restored to match that in schools, and for action on workload and job losses caused by underfunding.
NEU members will be taking action to secure the funding needed to sustain fair pay, conditions and employment, including reversing job losses, class size increases, and cuts to teaching time and curriculum provision.
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:
“Sixth Form Colleges have always been a beacon of quality, but funding cuts have had a savage impact on pay, conditions and jobs and have driven far too many colleges towards merger or closure.
“Strike action is always a last option but our members believe that it is necessary in order to solve our dispute and help save the sector and ensure future generations have the choice and opportunity for study that our local sixth form provides.
“With a General Election on the 12 December we also want prospective parliamentary candidates to support our call for higher funding of our Sixth Form Colleges as a priority for their party.”
The NEU sixth form colleges ballot closed on 16 September and five out of six members voted to take action – 84% of members voted Yes to action and Yes to saving the sixth form sector. Overall, there was a 43% turnout and there will be strike action in the 25 colleges that reached the 50% turnout threshold.
The 25 colleges which passed the 50% threshold and are involved in strike action:
- Bilborough College, Nottingham;
- Brighton Hove and Sussex Sixth Form College;
- Cheadle and Marple Sixth Form College;
- City & Islington Sixth Form College;
- Esher College;
- Hereford Sixth Form College;
- Hills Road Sixth Form College, Cambridge;
- King Edward VI College Stourbridge;
- Long Road Sixth Form College, Cambridge;
- Longley Park Sixth Form College, Sheffield;
- Newham Sixth Form College;
- Notre Dame Catholic Sixth Form College, Leeds;
- Priestley College, Warrington;
- Reigate College;
- Richard Huish College, Taunton;
- Shrewsbury Colleges Group;
- Sir George Monoux College, Walthamstow, London;
- St Brendan's Sixth Form College, Bristol;
- St Francis Xavier Sixth Form College, Clapham, London;
- St John Rigby RC Sixth Form College, Wigan;
- The Brooke House Sixth Form College, Hackney, London;
- The Sixth Form College Solihull;
- Varndean College, Brighton;
- Gateway Sixth Form College, Leicester;
- WQE and Regent College Group, Leicester.
More information on the strike can be found here.