6th Form strikes escalating

BSix College staff outside the gates on the picket line yesterday morning – part of a nationwide strike of 34 colleges

ON THE EVE of budget day, National Education Union members working in 34 sixth form colleges walked out demanding more funding as colleges have been stripped to the bone by over a decade of Tory cuts, the union said yesterday.

This was the sixth day of strike action and the struggle is escalating.

The NEU said: ‘We are balloting members in 50 colleges to expand the strike; the ballot opened on 6th March and closes on 6th April.

‘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 is putting the future of sixth form colleges under serious threat.

‘If the crisis continues to go unaddressed, it is students’ education that will continue to suffer.’

On the picket lines outside BSix college in Hackney, east London, Marcus, a lecturer and NEU member said: ‘The strike is about parity with school teachers and us sixth form teachers. They get 2.75 per cent, while we get 1.5 per cent. Our pay hasn’t increased.

‘Schools and academics have been given a pay grant to pay for the increase in pay, whereas sixth forms have to pay for it out of existing funds, that then takes it from the students.

‘The government should give us the pay across education. The other important thing is funding for the sixth form.’

Dr Mary Bousted, Joint NEU General Secretary said: ‘16-19 education is under incredible pressure, with sixth form colleges bearing the brunt of real-terms cuts.

‘That is why our members are pressuring the government ahead of the Budget. At the very least we need a £700m injection of new money to close the gap with schools, otherwise the crisis will continue.’