Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 31 August 2011

A warning from the FE sector - hands off our education!

The academies project was started by Tony Blair's New Labour government, but now the Con-Dems are 'fast tracking' it. Schools rated as 'outstanding' as well as 'failing' schools are pushed to become academies.

Academies are schools that, while still funded by the state, are run independently of local authorities, often by business consortiums.

A Socialist Party and NUT member looks at how the 'independence' of Further Education since 1992 should be a warning on academies.

The Con-Dems are turning hundreds of schools into academies through a system of bribery. Head teachers, who may traditionally have been supporters of comprehensive education, are lured by the 'offer' of thousands of pounds if they do the government's bidding, against funding cuts if they stay with the local authority.

Apologists will claim that pay and conditions will not be affected, that staff and students will hardly see the difference. However, anyone wondering what conditions and pay for staff working in academies will look like in a few years time should look no further than the Further Education (FE) sector. Conditions in FE and sixth form colleges show the massive dangers of privatisation in education.

Before 1992, colleges, like schools, were funded directly by the Local Education Authority. However, as part of a Tory government attack on local government, based on privatisation, competition and business interference into education, colleges were sliced off and turned into 'independent corporations'.

The Further and Higher Education Act meant colleges were still under the financial direction of the state, currently in the guise of the Learning and Skills Council, however, they had an unparalleled amount of independence.

After 1992, colleges could set pay on a local basis. Collective, national bargaining had gone, with union branches forced to negotiate pay locally. This has meant pay has been held back compared to teachers in the state sector.

However, teachers' pay, as the NUT teachers' union has pointed out, has been falling in real terms for years; the fact that FE pay is even below this, shows how crippling the Further and Higher Education Act was. Teachers in primary, secondary and FE should get the same, nationally negotiated, pay. However, this should be at a rate which recognises the demands of the job. There should be no race to the bottom.

Other disastrous consequences of FE college incorporation after 1992 include:

Teachers have recently seen reforms which clarify their roles, protecting them from time-consuming tasks which take time away from planning, teaching and assessment. These tasks include exam invigilation, cover, displays, collecting money, etc.

While these benefits are certainly limited and hardly touch the real issue of workload - 25 hours of teaching a week, plus planning, marking and tutoring, will often result in a 50 hour week - they do nevertheless give some protection to teachers.

In FE, teaching staff are expected to do all of these tasks and are often expected to do paperwork for student enrolment, financial arrangements and exam entries. Put simply, by getting lecturers to do the admin and support work, as well as teach, colleges save money.

Penny pinching academies and colleges can and will ignore national pay and conditions. While protection of employment rules (TUPE) may defend these in the first instance, staff will soon see that their conditions will not improve, with the possibility of new staff being employed on worse conditions. This is exactly what has happened in FE.

The situation in colleges is untenable for many staff. But it is not just the big issues of pay and workload that contribute to stress and depression. Colleges will often employ staff on zero hour contracts and pay them by the hour, making them insecure and easy to sack.

Lecturers in some colleges do not have a teaching qualification, meaning that they are exploited, being used as cheap labour, while students get a raw end deal on teaching and learning. Money for text books, equipment and educational trips is even harder to come by than in primary or secondary education.

Special educational needs (SEN) provision, except for students with a SEN statement, is in the hands of the college, meaning this will often be cut to save money. Colleges can pay their management what they like, meaning that principals could receive 200,000 a year while the starting salary for a lecturer could be as little at 17,000. The absence of democracy or accountability often leads to a bullying management, obsessed with results and unforgiving of 'disloyalty'.

All of this is made worse by the lecturers' union UCU being hamstrung by the destruction of collective, national bargaining in FE. In many areas the UCU has remained strong, through the hard work of its reps and loyalty of its membership.

But in other colleges principals and management, smelling blood, have destroyed the union. Some college principals deny union facility time and can even refuse union recognition.

Tory education secretary Michael Gove's 'academisation' of state schools, if not fought, will bring the same results. Privatisation of schools means staff, students and the community have to rely on the good will of an unelected board of trustees and a pressurised head.

One glance at the FE sector will show you what this means in reality for teachers, their pay and their conditions.

The Socialist demands:

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 31 August 2011:

Fighting public sector cuts

Mass action can stop the cuts

Con-Dems out to destroy NHS

Housing crisis wrecks people's lives

A warning from the FE sector - hands off our education!

Socialist Party editorial

The riots and the aftermath

Socialist Party news and analysis

Gaddafi regime crumbles

'Murdochgate' places Cameron under spotlight

'Broken Britain'...

Fast News

Socialist Party youth and students

We won't be a lost generation - fight for jobs and education

Socialist Party workplace news

Plymouth Unison - Battle to reverse de-recognition - Solidarity needed!

31st August - further day of protest by construction workers

Tyne and Wear: Churchill Metro workers begin fightback

South Yorkshire Newspapers strike now in seventh week

Youth workers strike across Oxfordshire

Part time workers and the great job con

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Keep EDL out!

6,500 Swansea children in poverty

Socialist Party summer camp

Newcastle-under-Lyme Socialist Party is now up and running!

Socialist Party review

Why Marx was right


Home   |   The Socialist 31 August 2011   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleSchools and teaching: A perfect storm of cuts, underfunding, excessive workloads and low pay

triangleCorbyn pledges council powers to take over academies

triangleCorbyn pledges end to uni fees and school cuts

triangleCuts leave schools unable to meet basic needs

triangleEd Balls: 'Speaking Out' for capitalism


triangleNasty party out the Tories

triangleUniversity of Leeds workers walk out

triangleFreshers week campaigning reports

triangleFight for free education


triangleJustice for Tube cleaners demo

triangleThem & Us

triangleMonarch abdicates responsibility to workers


triangleCollege workers ballot for action in Nottingham

triangleCommunity and artists campaign to save Todmorden College


triangleOne in four teenage girls depressed - crisis made worse by cuts


triangleSchool spend is behind eastern Europe


triangleCardiff Socialist Students confront 'Parasite' Jacob Rees-Mogg


triangleCWU fights court attempt to stop national strike


triangleWelsh college strike against crippling workload

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis



The end of the Tories?



Nasty party out the Tories


Black history

The fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against capitalist austerity



Housing crisis: Corbyn's positive measures blanked by Labour's right


Universal Credit

Major attacks 'Universal Credit', half a million more face poverty


Them & Us

Them & Us



NHS meltdown - fight the Tory cuts



IMF helps cause inequality it slams



Tories wreck our NHS



Monarch abdicates responsibility to workers



Capitalism and human progress



Bending the knee v Trump



The Tories must be driven out



Labour Party conference: Action against establishment sabotage still needed



Anti-austerity opposition needed to seize on Tories' weakness

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party out the Tories

triangle11 Oct CWU fights court attempt to stop national strike

triangle11 Oct The fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against...

triangle11 Oct Catalonia: Workers can finish what Puigdemont won't

triangle6 Oct Boeing bust-up threatens thousands of skilled jobs

triangle4 Oct The nasty party turns on itself... but the Tories must be driven out

More ...

triangle16 Oct Teesside Socialist Party: After the party conferences

triangle17 Oct London: TUC lobby & rally; and London march

triangle18 Oct Warrington & St Helens Socialist Party: 1917-2017; the October Russian Revolution

triangle18 Oct Hackney Socialist Party: 100 years ago - the Bolshevik-led revolution

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017





















Platform setting: = No platform choice