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'Live the vision' or lose the job

STAFF WHO fail to "live the vision" have been told a lack of enthusiasm for their college's strategy could lead to them being sacked.

Lecturers at Harlow College have voted to strike over plans to force them to re-apply for their jobs. They have also voted to boycott the application process.

Even if they succeed, many of the lecturers at the college, in the constituency of further and higher education minister Bill Rammell, face pay cuts of more than pound;10,000.

The appraisal system includes an assessment of support for the college's new teaching and learning strategy, with the top grade going to those who "live the vision".

Several lecturers, speaking to FE Focus on condition of anonymity, showed score cards demonstrating they had been given low grades for supporting the college's vision, despite receiving good ratings for their work.

They said they had not been asked directly about their support for the strategy before being given a poor grade that could mean they lose their job.

Staff had the chance to offer their own evidence - but merely saying they were committed was not enough.

Colin Hindmarch, the principal, said: "We are left with the decision, do we completely put aside whether people are committed to the college's objectives and strategies?"

Lecturers who spoke to FE Focus expressed disquiet about the principal's appointment of Sally-Ann Abdelmoula, a former massage lecturer with no A-levels and a degree in work-based learning, as head of sixth form.

Mr Hindmarch defended the appointment, saying: "The most important thing in terms of managing staff is their ability to manage, not their academic record."

In the ballot, 76 per cent of members who voted supported strike action, although Mr Hindmarch said this was only 66 out of 205 teaching staff.

Under the restructuring, a third of staff would be given inferior contracts, while all lecturers would have to work longer hours with less holiday.

One lecturer said: "Any action we are taking is going against the grain, because we do put our students first. But it's the only action we can take.

We would do anything not to be in this position."

Barry Lovejoy, head of colleges at the University and College Union, said:

"It is not acceptable in the 21st century for managers of a public service to behave like 19th-century mill owners, demanding more work for less pay on threat of the sack."

The restructuring of the workforce is intended to create three grades of lecturer who will work in teams to teach their subjects, often to larger workshop-style groups.

It accompanies a redrawing of the timetable, where students will work from 9.30am until 7pm, if necessary, with breaks taken only when they have achieved their targets.

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