From education to employment

Eulogy Prepared For Employment Contract in St. Albans College

Lecturers from the Oaklands College, St Albans, will gather on the afternoon of Monday March 27 to stage a mock funeral service for their contracts of employment, the first step of a rolling programme of action that could culminate with industrial action.

Sporting the customary black ensemble, “mourners” hope the service will provide the perfect platform to air their concerns regarding the decision taken by the college hierarchy to impose a new contract upon members of staff.

The Foundations of Good Teaching

The University and College Lecturers” Union (NATFHE), which acts as the collective voice for over 69,000 lecturers, trainers, researchers and managers, are furious. They believe the proposed contract puts the standard of student’s education in jeopardy, moving away from an ethos that promotes quality rather than quantity.

Existing contracts have a 24 hour weekly maximum limit on teaching hours. While this may not sound like much of a working week it is necessary to bear in mind that for each hour spent face to face with students, lecturers spend half an hour on lesson preparation, marking and general administration. The contract proposed by college management removes this stipulation, leaving lecturers exposed to a possible 37-hour teaching week that would leave significantly less time to prepare and mark students work.

As David Brooke, the Oakland College NATFHE branch secretary said: “The college management says that this new contract will improve education at Oaklands. How can this be the case when it will leave lecturers far less time for the foundations of good teaching ““ preparation and marking?”

Performance Related Pay

The college also wishes to introduce Performance Related Pay, making lecturers” salaries dependant on them meeting a list of criteria drawn up by the college. NATFHE is adamantly opposed to this pay scheme, highlighting that it did not form part of a landmark national pay deal agreed between the union and the Association of Colleges (AoC).

That deal, agreed in 2003, aimed to give further education lecturers nationwide equitable rates of pay and reduce the 10% gap between them and school teachers, even though more than twice as many 16-18 year olds study in further education colleges than schools.

Oaklands lecturers have been told that if they do not sign the new contract by Monday April 3, they will receive dismissal letters in the post. In an industry that continues to experience increasing levels of staff turnover, rising from 11% to 14.3% between September 2003-September 2004, this cannot be a good omen for the future.

Michael de la Fuente

Read more news on NATFHE, the AoC and the pay talks right here at FE News!

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