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College could increase teachers' hours to cut costs

Greenhead College in Huddersfield is also considering cutting subjects and reducing pastoral provision

Giving teachers a better work-life balance is key to retention and recruitment, writes Carole Willis

Greenhead College in Huddersfield is also considering cutting subjects and reducing pastoral provision

A sixth-form college is considering increasing teacher contact hours in a bid to save money and ensure its financial sustainability.

A range of proposals is currently being considered, Greenhead College told Tes, and several of the options being discussed “would involve an increase in timetabled teacher-student contact hours”. Currently, the figure stands at around 20 hours per week, but there are proposals to increase this to 21 hours 20 minutes or even 23 hours and 40 minutes per week – the latter would represent a rise in teaching hours of 18 per cent.

Any changes will not come into effect until September at the earliest.

Principal Simon Lett said the college was one of the best sixth-form colleges in the country and provided its students with an outstanding educational experience. “Sixth-form colleges have been hard-hit by restricted government funding. In 2010-11, the national funding rate was £4,876 per student. However, this has been frozen at £4,000 per student since 2013-14 and protection funding has also ended," he added.

"Taking into account inflation, as well as increases to pension costs, national insurance and the minimum wage, this has resulted in a real-term cut in income. Additionally, costs are also likely to increase due to the recent lifting of the public sector pay cap."  

'Implementing changes now'

He said: “To ensure that the college’s financial position remains sustainable in the future, it is clearly important that we implement changes now, thereby maintaining excellent academic provision and support for our students. The senior leadership team and governors are carefully considering the options available to us and a formal consultation process involving staff and the recognised trade unions has begun."

The principal stressed that a wide range of options was being considered under the consultation, including reducing the number of subjects offered and restructuring pastoral provision. A pay cut for teaching staff was not among the options under consideration, and it was too early to say whether redundancies could be an outcome of the consultation.

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary at the NEU teaching union, said: “It is quite clear that if sixth-form colleges are to provide the breadth and quality of education young people deserve, urgent additional investment is needed. Years of deep real-terms cuts have taken a dreadful toll on this sector, which has been cut far more than the rest of school budgets.”

He added: “This is a shameful way to be running an education system in one of the richest countries in the world. Government needs to accept that a lack of funding in our schools and colleges is causing immense problems for teachers, staff and students.”

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