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From The Socialist newspaper, 19 February 2020

Sixth-form strikers stand firm for increased funding

NEU strikers at Notre Dame in Leeds, 12.2.20, photo by Iain Dalton

NEU strikers at Notre Dame in Leeds, 12.2.20, photo by Iain Dalton   (Click to enlarge)

Notre Dame, Leeds

National Education Union (NEU) members at Notre Dame sixth-form, along with 34 other sixth-form colleges across the UK, took further strike action on 12 February in their ongoing dispute over funding for the sector and pay. This being the fourth strike day at Notre Dame.

The cuts in the sector have been substantial over the last decade, with 15% fewer teachers and funding cut in real terms by 22%.

This has had a knock on effect in terms of provision, with 81% of sixth form colleges teaching students in larger class sizes and cuts to courses.

The mood on the picket line at Notre Dame was good, with around a dozen staff joining the picket. They were planning to join the national lobby of parliament called by the NEU on the next day of national strike action, 27 February, and then on 10 March link up with striking academic staff in UCU at Leeds University.

Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party
NEU strikers at Havering in east London, 12.2.20, photo by Ian Pattison

NEU strikers at Havering in east London, 12.2.20, photo by Ian Pattison   (Click to enlarge)

Havering, east London

The NEU warns that sixth-form colleges could disappear. Funding is 700 million short.

The impact of cuts cannot be underestimated. Teaching foreign languages has been hardest hit, while cuts to science, maths, technology and engineering are almost as severe.

Student support services - including vital mental-health care - and extra-curricular activities are being cut. Class sizes have increased in 81% of colleges.

Today there are half the number of sixth-form colleges there were in 1992, 15% fewer college teachers than 2010, and college workers' pay has dropped lower than schools.

On the picket line at Havering Sixth-Form College, NEU members said they thought they have been seen as an easy target for government cuts. But they are still determined to strike. Boris Johnson says 'austerity is over', so these workers want that to apply to colleges.

Staff at Havering College are also angry because the college has been hit by a form of academy privatisation. Worse contracts are being imposed on workers, it's the final straw. There could more strikes at this college very soon.

Ian Pattison, East London Socialist Party

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In The Socialist 19 February 2020:


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