Lecturers plan more action

21st January 2000 at 00:00
STAFF at Hendon College, north London, are considering further industrial action over management plans to replace lecturers with "learning facilitators".

About 60 members of the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education took 24-hour strike action over two days last week in protest at the introduction of new facilitator posts, pay and the use of agency staff. A meeting with senior management is due to take place today to discuss the issues.

Staff are unhappy that a new senior key skills teacher has been appointed with the job description of "learning facilitator" and they fear that the practice might spread to other college departments.

The union branch said:

"NATFHE has no objection to initiatives aimed at increasing educational opportunities for students. NATFHE is also wholeheartedly in favour of the tradition in the further education sector of administration staff moving into lecturing.

"But there is a clear and vital principle that must be adhered to: if a person is doing a job identified as lecturing then that person must be paid as a lecturer and have the conditions of a lecturer. We are clear that this appointment crosses over the line."

The college has offered staff a 1.7 per cent pay rise - below the Assoiation of Colleges' recommended 3 per cent award and described by NATFHE as

"pitiful".

The union is also unhappy about the continued use of contract staff, from Education Lecturing Services, who currently deliver an eighth of teaching hours.

Hendon's former principal Jenny Hoyland recently retired after an extended period of sick leave. She is married to Roger Ward, a former boss of the AOC, whose close connections with ELS were partly to blame for his downfall.

Acting principal Andrew Whitaker is known to favour new technology over traditional teaching methods. In 1996, when he was finance director, he told The TES: "Our strategy is to move away from lecture-based learning courses to more resource-based learning."

Marketing manager Ruth Lomax said the college's funding had ranked in the lowest 25 per cent in the country and the reduced pay award was made

"in order to protect its financial solvency".

The full award would be met when finances allowed and would be considered at a meeting next month.

She said the use of agency lecturers "helps to maintain flexibility of course provision" and cover for absent lecturers. She added that the use of facilitators "complements the role of lecturers rather than replaces them".


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