Scottish college sector heading for industrial action

The union says the emerging practice of replacing qualified lecturers with lower qualified instructors is ‘purely a cost-cutting measure with absolutely no educational merit’
27th November 2020, 12:01am

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Scottish college sector heading for industrial action

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archive/scottish-college-sector-heading-industrial-action
The Scottish College Sector Could Be Heading For Industrial Action

The college sector in Scotland could be heading for national industrial action with the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), the union representing lecturers in further education opening a national consultative ballot on industrial action.

The EIS is in dispute with colleges, through the national body Colleges Scotland, over what they view as the replacement of college lecturer posts with lower-paid instructor or assessor posts. Industrial action is already under way at one college, Forth Valley College, over the issue. The ballot opening today is part of a wider national dispute. Lecturers are also being asked to take part in a day of action in support of the campaign, to take place throughout the day - this will include an online rally and a range of social media activity to highlight the campaign to protect lecturing jobs.

As part of Scotland's return to national bargaining, a pay deal was agreed that meant lecturers were migrating on to a single pay scale towards a salary of just over £40,000.


Read more: 'We should not be on strike today'

More news: Professional registration to help raise lecturer status

Background: College teacher pay higher in Scotland than England


EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: "We have now opened a consultative industrial action ballot in defence of quality further education delivered by qualified lecturers. The emerging practice of replacing qualified lecturers with lower qualified, and lower paid, instructors is purely a cost-cutting measure with absolutely no educational merit.

"This runs absolutely counter to the drive to promote professionalism within further education, including the registration of college lecturing staff with the professional body, the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS). The EIS urges all our lecturer members in colleges to use their vote in this important ballot to show their support for a high-quality further education system across Scotland."

A spokesperson for Colleges Scotland, said: "It is disappointing that the EIS-FELA (Further Education Lecturers' Association) is asking its members to consider industrial action in the midst of a global pandemic that has disrupted education, and severely impacted the economy and employment prospects for many people across Scotland. Instructor/tutor/assessor positions are not new roles and have been in place within the sector for a considerable number of years.

"Colleges use a variety of different learning and teaching methods designed to give the best student experience and to suit the needs of the subject. The use of instructors, assessors and tutors in the college sector is a well-established practice in delivering the diversity of curriculum activity which best addresses the needs of the learner and is appropriate for specific courses.

"Both support staff and lecturing staff are equally valuable and necessary for the effective running of colleges, and the sector will play a key role in supporting Scotland's economic recovery by supporting the tens of thousands of our people who are going to have to change career, reskill and upskill to find new jobs."

Last week, the chief executive of the GTCS told Tes that formal registration would give college lecturers the professionalism and status many further education staff seek.

"It is about giving lecturers a status and a professionalism many of them have been looking for," Ken Muir said. He added that registering them in the same way that school teachers are in Scotland would mean they were "recognised by the professional body for the teaching profession in Scotland" - a move that would help them feel less like the college sector is "seen as a step down from schools".  

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