From education to employment

Irritation at lack of firmer line being taken over pay disparity in FE

An association representing teachers across the country has expressed its disappointment over the findings of a report on further education published today.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) has noted its frustration at the Education and Skills Committee’s report, which it believes has not taken a firmer line in closing the funding gap between schools and colleges.

Dr Mary Bousted, ATL general secretary, said: “It is extremely disappointing that the pay and conditions of staff in FE have still not been addressed. The funding gap between schools and colleges should have been dealt with as a matter of great urgency, rather than merely calling on the Government to explain what further action will be taken, and by when”.

The Committee has however, taken on board some of the suggestions put forward by ATL in their response to the paper, which includes the extension to age-25 of the free Level 3 course entitlement.

“For too long, our members have been sacrificed on the front line of FE’s battle to obtain adequate funding, and this must not continue”, Dr Bousted added.

And in a statement released this morning, the University and College Union (UCU) has echoed the Committee’s calls for the government to clear up its confusion on college courses that lead to work, and those that don”t.

UCU also backed the Committee’s recommendations for a reconsideration of levies on employers to encourage them to train their employees.

However, the UCU mirrored ATL’s disappointment over the revisiting of the funding gap between schools and colleges, citing the Committee’s failure to mention pay improvements for FE lecturers.

National Head of FE at UCU, Barry Lovejoy, commented: “UCU believes that the government has created an unhelpful and confusing divide between courses that lead to greater employability and courses that don”t, resulting in a growing crisis in adult education”.

“Our members are reporting course closures across the country and as the Committee highlighted, these are often the result of hasty decisions based on cash shortages rather than careful planning targeting struggling courses. In fact, many of the courses under threat are successful at bringing people back into learning and eventually helping them back into work. In addition, they have value in promoting good physical and mental health and well being”.

“Our members also report that the speed of fee increases is putting adult learners off and this is in turn, leading to the threatened closure of valued courses. We support the committee’s call for an impact assessment of the new fees regime”.

“We are disappointed that the report is silent on pay which is absolutely critical if colleges want to recruit and retain top quality staff”.

Vijay Pattni.

Related Articles