Thousands of teachers in England could go on strike over funding pressures on sixth-form colleges.
The NUT union has sent an indicative ballot to its 4,000 members at 93 colleges across England. If members vote in favour of action, a formal ballot will take place next month to decide whether to hold a national one-day strike.
Sixth-form colleges, which collectively educate around 150,000 students, are estimated to have lost up to £100 million in funding since 2010. In the spending review last November, Chancellor George Osborne announced that the budget for 16- to 19-year-olds would be protected in cash terms during this Parliament. But this does not take into account inflation and the NUT argues that it represents a real-terms cut.
Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the NUT, said: "Although the coalition government offered some protection to education funding for 5- to 16-year-olds, it cut post-16 funding by 14 per cent in real terms and the Conservative government's proposals mean a further 8 per cent cut [in real terms]. This is leading to higher class sizes and longer teaching hours, meaning greater workload for teachers as well as a loss of opportunities for students."
The NUT is not the only union proposing a strike in the FE sector. Support staff union Unison is also balloting for proposed industrial action over pay in FE colleges, while the UCU is also considering taking part after holding its first strike in November. TES understands that a joint strike action on 2 March has been mooted, should Unison members vote in favour of action. Last year, the Association of Colleges recommended a zero per cent rise to FE colleges in the face of widely anticipated severe cuts to FE.