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21st March 2020

Sixth Form College action continues

Sam Lane, NEU representative at WQE College, interviewed by BBC East Midlands Today
Sam Lane, NEU representative at WQE College, interviewed by BBC East Midlands Today

National Education Union members working in 34 sixth form colleges took strike action on Wednesday 12th and 27th February and on 10th March, in response to the impact of funding cuts in their sector. The final strike was also with UCU members from the Universities.

In total, 38% of all sixth form colleges and 16-19 academies will be taking action together, including both Gateway Sixth Form College and Wyggeston and Queen Elizabeth 1 College in Leicester. The NEU is in dispute with the Secretary of State and seeking improved pay, conditions and employment through better funding for 16-19 education. NEU members' action is to secure the funding needed to reverse job losses, class size increases, and cuts to teaching time and curriculum provision.

Funding for 16-19 education has been cut by more and for longer than in schools, and funding increases announced before the Election are grossly inadequate. Jobs have been cut, class sizes have risen and pay has fallen. If the crisis continues to go unaddressed, the future of the sector is at threat and it is students' education that will continue to suffer.

The NEU is seeking higher and sustained funding which will improve the pay, working conditions and security of employment of NEU members and secure the future of the sector.

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:

The Conservatives have neglected 16-19 education and sixth form colleges in particular. No wonder our members are angry and determined to secure a properly funded post-16 sector for both students and staff.

Gavin Williamson must take heed of this very real concern from a long-suffering sector and make the case to the Chancellor and the Prime Minister that the Budget on 11 March must include at the very least a ?£700m injection of new money to close the gap with schools. Otherwise the crisis in 16-19 funding will continue.