NewVIc sixth form teachers join national strike action in bid to ‘save’ the 16-19 sector

NewVIc staff and supporters outside the Plaistow 16-19 college in Prince Regent Lane, Plaistow. Pict

NewVIc staff and supporters outside the Plaistow 16-19 college in Prince Regent Lane, Plaistow. Picture: Socialist Worker - Credit: Archant

A sixth form college’s teachers have joined a second national strike over pay and funding.

Staff from Newham Sixth Form College - NewVIc - formed a picket line outside the centre in Prince Regents Lane, Plaistow, on Tuesday, November 5.

They were demanding pay increases to match primary and secondary colleagues and more money for the 16-19 sector to avoid losing special educational needs and pastoral care services.

Teacher, Catherine Cleary, said: "We had a good turnout. We are hopeful that in the run up to the election, this will have gained politicians' attention. We're asking for fairness and equality."

Catherine added that a day's industrial action caused less disruption to young people's education than the sector's chronic underfunding.

The Department for Education announced in July that teachers pay would rise by 2.75 per cent equivalent to a £1,000 increase to average classroom teacher pay, according to the government.

But Catherine explained sixth form teachers had been offered a rise of only one per cent.

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A House of Commons select committee reported in July that nationally post-16 funding per student had fallen by 16pc in real terms over the past decade. It urged the government to pump £1billion into the sector.

A NewVIc spokesman said: "As a college we support the Raise the Rate and Love Our Colleges campaigns to increase funding in the sector. Across the country, sixth form college funding is in crisis.

"We are calling everyone to join us in supporting the campaigns which are making the case for extra government funding to support fair pay and funding."

About 30 NewVIc teachers joined colleagues from 24 sixth form colleges around the country in the national strike action backed by the National Education Union (NEU).

Kevin Courtney, the NEU's joint general secretary, said: "Strike action is always a last option but our members believe it is necessary in order to solve our dispute and help save the sector."

In August, Chancellor, Sajid Javid, announced £400million of extra funding for 16-19 providers.

The education secretary, Gavin Williamson, said: "This investment will make sure we can continue to develop world-class technical and vocational education to rival countries on the continent so we have a highly skilled and productive workforce for the future."

A third strike is planned for November 20.