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No room for smugness on pay

You report on how pay rates for lecturers in further education are being eroded in the wake of separation from local education authorities and Further Education Funding Council college budget cuts (TES, September 20). This will come as no surprise to staff in colleges who have been left battered and bruised by the onslaught on their contracts over the past three years. What is amazing is that the pay of senior staff in most colleges has rocketed in that time together with the provision of perks unheard of before (for example, company cars).

Those in the maintained state sector in schools should not feel smug about this trend. A starting salary of Pounds 12,000 and part-time rates of about Pounds 8 per hour or less for lecturers is now common and existing staff who have not moved to new contracts have had no pay increase for about four years. New contracts usually mean reduction to four to six weeks annual holiday, 30 hours (minimum) teaching and other conditions which belong more to Victorian times than today.

This will ultimately reflect in the cost of providing courses and will make them cheaper to staff than in schools. While this may not appear to present a problem for statutory school-age education, let me remind readers that in March The TES carried an article giving details of possible recommendations of Sir Ron Dearing which suggested transfer of large chunks of work done in secondary schools from 14 to 16 to the further education college sector.

JOHN PALFREYMAN 22 Furlong Drive Tean Stoke on Trent

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