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Beware the FE staffing agency tendency

Jane MacFarlane, in her article about changes to teachers' contracts of employment (TES, January 30), paints far too rosy a picture of the position in further education and seems unaware of what is actually happening.

My own college started using an agency for some of its part-time work last September. Already some established part-time staff still employed by the college have had their hours cut in favour of the cheaper-to-employ agency teachers "to give a more flexible service".

The new flexible contracts in FE only ensure two weeks' notice of any cancellation of hours and do not give any rights at all for holiday pay.

Just as iniquitous is the fact that those part-time staff still employed by the college are now effectively barred from any staff training. This is because the college has now stated that if they attend courses they will lose all pay for the classes they miss. This does not apply to full-time staff. Far from "improving teachers' status", as the article suggests, the new system seems destined to ensure a disenfranchised, insecure teaching staff who can no longer afford to keep abreast of developments.

Teachers in schools should take warning from what is happening in FE and resist with all their strength any erosion of their contracts.

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