Barnsley College strike action threat

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Lecturers at a South Yorkshire college are to vote on action after being told more than 40 of them face redundancy this summer.

The cuts represent 10 per cent of the teaching staff and come on top of 19 voluntary job losses at Barnsley College - one of South Yorkshire’s biggest.

University and College Union spokesman Dave Gibson said: “We knew cuts were coming but we’re staggered by the scale of these.”

College principal Colin Booth blamed Government funding cuts.

“Due to the well-publicised Government spending budget cuts, Barnsley College is in a position whereby staffing reductions are required to respond to changes in funding,” he said.

“Overall the college is in a strong position to face what will clearly be a difficult time for public services over the next few years.”

Mr Booth said although cuts would mean larger average class sizes, the college would continue to provide ‘an exceptional learning experience’.

But Mr Gibson said quality of education would be ‘drastically affected’.

He said: “That’s something we’re particularly angry about because we’ve worked very hard to get outstanding status from Ofsted which is now being snatched away by these Government cuts.

“Obviously we’re also very very worried by the prospects for our jobs.

“These are people who have devoted their lives to teaching and, through no fault of their own, face losing their jobs and their livelihoods.”

Students took to the streets in protest after they learned about the threat to lecturers’ jobs.

Jamie-Leigh Mitchell, aged 18, of Osborne Street, Barnsley, said she thought the cutbacks would harm students’ education.

“It will mean bigger classes and less attention will be given to us. If it’s a matter of money they shouldn’t have built the new college building.

“The staff were in tears and the students are upset. We wanted to show our support for our teachers,” she added.

The college has bounced back after serious problems two years ago after its £55 million plans for rebuilding the campus were thrown into chaos by a national cash freeze.