Stealing the Jewels from the Crown

The government is imposing massive cuts on sixth form colleges with disastrous effects on the educational provision for many of our young people.

Tania Ziegler, Sixth Form teacher, explains why so many sixth form teachers are ready to strike.

NUT members in Sixth Form Colleges are leading the way in the campaign against the cuts in education. Nearly 9 out of 10 members who voted said YES to strike action on Tuesday March 15th.

Unlike schools, the sector was not ring-fenced, and saw its funding cut by 14% in real terms by the Coalition. With another 8% of cuts happening in real terms over the next 4 years, it’s no wonder that one third of principals say their colleges may soon be financially unviable.

One third of young people at sixth form colleges come for the most disadvantaged parts of the country. Together with the scrapping of EMA, and the cut in funding for the third year of post 16 courses, it seems that hitting the most vulnerable is a key part of Tory policy. No surprises there.

Teaching staff face intolerable workloads due to rising class sizes and increased contact time. Working conditions have become dangerously cramped for both staff and students, squeezing nearly 30 people in to rooms designed for 18.

Subjects have been dropped in over 70% of colleges, including previously ‘safe’ maths and science courses.

Colleges are being bribed to convert to academy status with a promise of refunding VAT on successful completion.

All the more worrying is that the ‘Area Reviews’ being carried out for ‘efficiency’ have been shown to save no money and not improve standards, according to academic research carried out in Scotland where colleges have already suffered them. Further, support staff have lost jobs in forced mergers. We are standing up for them too.

The success of the sixth form sector is unparalleled in getting young people in to higher education, far ahead of independent schools, most of whom select their students. This Government are desperate to steal the jewels in the crown of state education to prop up their failing academy and free school experiment.

NUT members everywhere are called on to support their sixth form sisters and brothers in Tuesday’s national sixth form college strike. You can show your support by visiting picket lines at your local college, or using the hashtags #loveoursixthformcollege and #saveourcolleges on twitter.

 Tania Ziegler is a sixth form teacher in Winchester and the Sixth Form College Officer for the Hampshire Division

For more information on the campaign and actions you can take click here

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