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Pay concession is good news

AT last the Government appears to be addressing the issue of further education lecturers' pay, (FE Focus, October 6) and mercifully, "ministers have agreed that the performance-related model introduced for schools is not applicable to the FE sector".

Performance and productivity gains are, however, concepts with which FE staff are well-acquainted. In fact, as everyone knows, the massive expansion of FE since incorporation, has only been achieved by halving vacations, increasing teaching contact time, reducing course hours, abolishing incremental scales and inflicting exponentially mounting administration duties.

Those of us old enough to remember the money thrown at schools, following the raising of the school-leaving age in the 1970s, can only marvel at the achievements of the past seven years.

Colleges have effectively hiked the leaving age to 18 or 19, for a fraction of the cost of the maintained sector. They have simultaneously striven to mirror the socialisation and maturation process that plentiful jobs used to provide, and to turn school failure into success. If this were not enough, regular readers of FE ocus, will recall that much of this was also achieved by demoralised staff in institutions with dubious management styles and byzantine accounting procedures.

The process for staff continues to be one of relentless change, with the new key skills targets, exemplifing the under-funded and rigidly-deadlined mopping-up operations we are expected to achieve after the failure of the maintained sector.

Down to the last catch-all clause of our Colleges' Employers' Forum-inspired contracts, we are, without doubt, the epitome of productivity, and the Government knows it.

Isn't this why they're blanketing the sector with transferable teaching qualifications, hoping possibly, to stem the haemorrhage in schools by persuading our multi-talented staff to leap across the contractual divide?

I hope not. We're good, we deserve recognition for the enormous gains of the past decade, not a grudging pittance with a multitude of performance strings. What more can we do? That legendary, but unorthodox wielding of the sweeping brush perhaps?

John Powner

Broad View

Spout Lane

Stoke on Trent


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