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College cuts and funding chaos
A sixth-form college worker
I worked at a sixth form college that proudly advertised itself as a 'zero landfill college'. This was frustrating however, as staff knew that all recycling was scrapped last year - due to lack of funding! This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cuts to funding in sixth form colleges.
Working in an academic support department, I have seen the effect of austerity in these colleges first hand. Low funding for our department means that there are too few staff to support the number of students with physical and academic learning needs.
A few periods a week, three support staff are needed to be in six different classes to give the students the support they require to fully participate and get the most out of their lesson.
In struggling colleges across my hometown, non-special educational needs and disability students (SEND) are recruited as classroom supporters and the job is advertised as 'enrichment' to their timetable.
The students who take notes are very helpful, but are sometimes unreliable and do not show up without informing the department - leaving a student who cannot, for example, write independently without support.
Also, some of the students they help have very challenging behaviour. The second year A-Level students that support departments have a huge workload, so need their free periods to study. This is clearly unfair to both the supporter and the SEND student.
Budget cuts also mean students are required to pay for more printing themselves, disadvantaging low-income students. And cuts to printing budgets mean subject departments could not adequately adapt resources for visually impaired students.
It is clear that austerity measures to state education services do not affect us all equally, and further education colleges are bearing the biggest brunt of cuts to education.
These cuts are hitting already disadvantaged students. Further education colleges have been underfunded and cut away over the last 20 years, all while still paying VAT on learning unlike private schools Eton, Harrow, Winchester and Rugby which are all 'charities!'
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