Staff at Sheffield sixth form college strike over further education funding
Staff at a Sheffield sixth form college have taken part in the second of a series of strike days to defend their pay, working conditions and employment.
Members of the National Education Union (NEU) at Longley Park Sixth Form College will be walking out today, November 5, over cuts to 16-19 education funding that they say have been ‘deeper and have gone on for longer than any other school sector.’
Funding for sixth forms and further education colleges in England has been slashed by almost 16 per cent since the start of the decade, according to a report published by the Education Policy Institute earlier this year.
It found that money received for every enrolled student has been cut, in real terms, from £5,900 to just £4,960.
Duncan Blackie of the National Education Union, said: “Our Sixth Form Colleges and the staff who work in them have been hung out to dry by this Government. 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.
“Strike action is always a last option but our members believe that it is necessary in order to solve our dispute and help save the sector.”
Union officials said there is a £700 million shortfall in funding for Post-16 education which impacts its members and also students' education, putting the future of sixth form colleges under serious threat.
NEU members are also 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, it added.
A strike rally was held in London outside the Department for Education on October 17, where union members presented an outstanding invoice for the amount they said is still needed for the Post-16 sector but is not covered by ‘Boris Johnson’s empty promises’.
Further strike action is set to take place on November 20 if a deal is not reached.
The Chancellor Sajid Javid announced a £400m funding increase in September as part of his spending review.
He said the money would come into effect in the 2020/21 academic year and support the introduction of T-Levels.
However, some critics argue this is not enough to reverse the damage caused by cuts in recent years.