Wyggeston and Queen Elizabeth I College
NUT members at WQEIC fully support the action taken by our colleagues at Gateway. While things are not quite as bad at QE, industrial relations have deteriorated sharply following the appointment of our current Principal. QE used to be a great place to work, staff respected each other, and teachers were always prepared to go that extra mile to help our students, who are well motivated but generally need a lot of support.
Since Incorporation, Sixth Form Colleges have been under pressure to deliver the A Level Curriculum with restricted funding and stretched resources, but our performance is still judged in league tables which compare our results with every A level centre. Inner City Colleges especially 'under-perform' in comparison with national data, which is accepted unquestionably, and the situation is bound to get worse with the drastic funding cutbacks made by the Con Lib Government and the resulting growth in set sizes.
Despite the funding reduction there appears to be no shortage of funds for outside 'experts' to come into the College and carry out excessive and critical lesson observations in subject areas which are deemed to be a 'concern'.
We are already in dispute with the Principal over plans to change our longstanding working arrangements and it appears to be inevitable that industrial relations will worsen even more due to the proposed re-structuring.
Educational arguments for a 'holistic approach' are being made for the restructuring on the basis that the College value added has been falling in some subject areas. Under the proposals more than 50% of teachers stand to lose, the majority through losing pay and pension, and a few others by taking on extra responsibilities with no increase in pay at a time of significant A Level reform.
The proposals create widening pay differentials between Line Managers and their subordinates, and will create rivalry and animosity between colleagues. It will not act in the best interests of students and, far from creating a "holistic" approach, it will create a lot of division, a demoralised staff, and an unpleasant working atmosphere, which is undoubtedly likely to have an impact on the teaching and learning process with our students.
Teacher morale is now at an all-time low - far worse than during the massive funding cutbacks which hit Sixth Form Colleges at the time of Incorporation in 1993. Local Association Secretaries addressed a well-attended joint union meeting because the proposals unilaterally break our existing protection arrangements, which are the consequence of a negotiated agreement.