A group of teachers from Bilborough College are protesting in Old Market Square, Nottingham, to fight for sixth-form colleges and for better support from the government.
The teachers are among staff from 25 sixth-form colleges on strike across the country today with the National Education Union today (November 5).
According to the union, colleges have been struggling to provide student support and enrichment, such as work experience, and have had to drop minority subjects such as modern foreign languages.
The NEU’s Nick Raine, who is also a councillor representing Basford said: “We are striking because the sixth-form sector is facing massive cuts. We have fewer colleges than ever before and the work load is increasing.” In the last 27 years, the number of sixth-form colleges has halved, he added.
He said that removing the VAT requirement for sixth-form colleges would help, as would increasing funding. “We also need decent paying conditions for our staff who haven’t had a pay increase in 10 years, and support for our young people.”
Jason, an English lecturer from Bilborough College, said: “Last year, I had a class of 27 students. They’re coming from GCSE and there is a big skills gap between GCSEs and A-levels, so they need more one-on-one support from teachers which we can’t provide in such big classes.”
His colleague Martin added: “There’s been nine years of austerity and you can see what that has done to our colleges. Because funding has been cut and our pay has been frozen, we don’t have the right resources which is depleting the quality of our education, especially the technology aspect of it.”
The National Education Union Rep Simon Holland, Geography teacher at Bilborough Nottingham college, 38, argues the latest cuts on sixth form colleges are “the highest of any part of education”.
He said: “We are fighting to get an increasing funding. We are struggling.”
“It is leading to larger class sizes and it is very stressful for teachers, even if the colleges are very successful.”
Simon Holland said: “We write to MPs, we have meeting with politicians. Gradually, they are starting to listen and they recently announced a small increase in funding, but it is only a third of what they have cut off since 2010.”
“It is not enough to get us back to where we need to be”, he added.
The protesters claim these education institutions are facing a critical situation at the moment, with 50 per cent fewer standalone sixth form colleges than in 1992, jobs being cut and teachers forced out of the profession.
Various organisations such as The National Union of Students, The National Education Union, University and College Union have shown their support towards the campaign, as well as local politicians.
“Our politician for the college is Alex Morris, MP. He has been very supportive, he has been tweeting us all day. Other MPs and councillors are also on board.”
“Everyone can see how with a small amount of extra funding we can do such more.”
- According to the NEU, funding has been cut by 22 per cent over the past eight years.
- Despite the increase in their workload, teachers and support staff are paid less than those in schools.
- Teachers have been losing their jobs – the number of teachers has decreased by 15 per cent since 2010.
- 78 per cent of colleges have had to reduce student support service and extra-curricular activities due to the government cuts, including mental health support and employ-ability and careers skills.
- The union is calling on members of public to back its campaign using the hashtag #SaveOurColleges.
- For more information, visit neu.org.uk/sixthformballot