Part-timers push more paper

10th September 2004 at 01:00
Thousands of lecturers used to turn up, teach and leave, but now they too are tangled in red tape. Steve Hook reports

Part-time lecturers are doing more paperwork thanks to the mounting bureaucratic burden on further education.

Research funded by the Learning and Skills Council paints a picture of colleges increasingly relying on the goodwill of an army of part-timers whose numbers mushroomed after colleges left local-authority control in 1993.

The survey cites cases of lecturers spending as much time on paperwork for the awarding bodies and other organisations as they do on teaching.

The survey was conducted by the Learning and Skills Development Agency for the LSC.

A spokeswoman for the agency said: "Ten years ago, a part-timer could more or less turn up teach and leave. Now there is paperwork to do and we heard from a lot of people that the awarding bodies were causing a lot of this extra work."

But the research also suggested low-cost measures that could improve the morale of part-timers who often feel isolated from the their full-time colleagues.

Lecturers complained of poor access to telephones, having no email and, in 42 per cent of cases, no access to social rooms.

One part-timer told the LSDA's researchers: "I don't have access to a desk or office space. I have no storage space. I can't even hang up my coat."

Another complained they had to attend compulsory staff development sessions without being paid.

Hourly pay for part-timers ranges from pound;8 to pound;42, with the average at pound;18, says the survey's report, titled A rich contract: the ragged trousered philanthropy' of part-time staff.

It says: "The psychological contract between teacher and learners is rich, but the one between the institution and the part-time teacher is too often impoverished."

The research found 66 per cent of part-timers feel valued by their students but only 42 per cent felt the same could be said of their line managers.

Part-timers are often left out of staff development which is essential if they are to keep up with ever-changing demands of the job, says the agency's report.

Staff development was better in adult and community education, where there is even more reliance on part-timers than in colleges.

Mike Cooper, of the LSDA, said: "The changing curriculum, the requirements of awarding bodies and the rigours of inspections mean that part-time teachers need to be kept up-to-date in the same way as full-time staff. But our research shows that is only happening in a minority of cases."

Part-timers lacked key resources, according to the report. It said a quarter lacked access to a photocopier. Most had "no effective office space", and 70 per cent had "no effective storage space".

One lecturer said: "I pay for my own travel and any materials required for the course, including reference books, floppy disks and telephone calls to the exam board. The centre pays for photocopies and postage but only if I can get in to the adult education offices."

But some part-timers, it appears, are treated well. One said: "I have access to the same resources as full-time colleagues, except space in the staffroom."

Yvonne Hillier, senior lecturer in continuing education at City university, said: "The term 'ragged-trousered philanthropist' aptly describes a kind of genteel professionalism where people do good works for low wages in poor conditions.

"Part-time staff make up about two-thirds of all teaching staff - but they are being marginalised and neglected."

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