TWENTY five Sixth Form Colleges take their second day of strike action today against savage cuts to pay, funding, courses and staff.
The strikers, who are in the National Education Union (NEU), say that the 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.
The NEU said: ‘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 NEU General Secretary, 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.
‘With a General Election on 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 25 colleges out on strike include five in London: City & Islington Sixth Form College, Newham Sixth Form College, George Monoux College, Walthamstow, The Brooke House Sixth Form College, Hackney and Xavier Sixth Form College in Clapham.
Colleges are out around the country including in Leeds, Taunton, Nottingham; Brighton, Cheadle, Hereford, Cambridge, Warrington, Solihull and Leicester.