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New college governance disregards democratic decision-making

Ken Ruddiman's article epitomises the attitude of senior managers in the further education sector to the new contract. It is one thing to embrace change when it is accompanied by a substantial increase in salary, which is the case with most senior managers, but for those of us who have declined to accept the doubtful privilege of a Colleges' Employers' Forum contract and a one-off payment, which, as a colleague pointed out "would not pay for a set of tyres for your car", change is less attractive.

Mr Ruddiman seems reluctant to recognise the fact that under the new arrangement for college governance there is a built-in majority of representation from industry. This is such a blatant disregard of democratic decision-making that it is hardly surprising that main grade lecturers feel disillusioned. Even where there are non-industrial representatives on the board they are often unwilling to rock the boat -an unfortunate parallel with many bodies in the public sector under the present Tory Government.

The lack of willingness by many college principals to move away from the CEF stance on contracts is frustrating to Silver Book staff, especially when some colleges are able to offer an acceptable compromise.

A good example in the north-west region is that of Stockport College, which has offered a very reasonable contract to teaching staff that manages to embrace change and the need for flexibility with a recognition that we are human beings rather than teaching (and administration) machines.

Yes, we do need to form a partnership to move forward, but only when college principals are prepared to start on a level playing field.

DAVID FELTON

583 Crewe Road

Wistaston

Crewe, Cheshire

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