OVER 300 striking teachers from sixth form colleges around the country demanded the government honour their £700 million funding ‘invoice’ which was signed by strikers after a rally in central London yesterday.
‘Funding for the sixth form college sector has been cut by 26 per cent. That has led to a crisis and this strike,’ said NEU joint General Secretary Mary Bousted at the rally yesterday.
‘Class sizes are increasing, courses are cut, SEND children are not getting the support they need.
‘Staff are constantly fearful of losing their jobs and levels of student stress are going through the roof.
‘Enough is enough, your work is so undervalued, there is no other option left. That’s why we are striking, that’s why we are marching.’
Kevin Courtney, the other joint NEU general secretary told the rally: ‘We have the most repressive anti-union laws, that want to stop strikes.
‘Twenty-five colleges are on strike today and we will be reballoting another 20 colleges where the vote was very close so there will be more colleges out on the next strike dates.
‘The government cannot claim sixth form colleges are a jewel in the crown when their funding is cut first and EMA for students is abolished.
‘In secondary schools average funding per pupil is £4,800 while at Brighton and Hove sixth form college funding per pupil is £4,176.
‘We have been offered a 1.5 per cent rise whereas teaches have been offered 2.75 per cent. We want pay parity.
‘Our campaign is not going away. We have won £400m. It is not enough but it should be spent on staff.’
Teachers at the rally spoke to News Line. Paul Green from Reigate College said: ‘We have seen a 15 per cent funding cut.
‘There has been a funding imbalance between schools and sixth form colleges.
‘The work we do is essential and we want parity with schools.’
Joanna Tillotson was with a lively delegation from Bilborough Sixth Form College in Nottingham and said: ‘We want an increase in pay to save the future of 16-19 year-olds at sixth form colleges.
‘The government should be investing in their future and the quality of their education.’
Also from Bilborough, Rashida Hassanali told News Line: ‘We want to give sixth form colleges the respect they deserve.
‘The funding cut to colleges affects us and and our ability to support our young people.
‘It’s a travesty. They are our future and how can we look after them if the government doesn’t look after us.’