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Harlow College staffing crisis looms as half teaching staff set to leave

29 June 2007 | last updated: 14 December 2015

A staffing crisis is set to follow the mass departure of teaching staff from Harlow College.

Despite efforts by UCU the college management has failed to provide safeguards against excessive workloads in new contracts being introduced at the college. The college is requiring teaching staff, on threat of redundancy, to sign up to as many as 37 teaching hours a week - an impossible task for any teacher given course preparation, marking and other duties.

Half the teaching staff are set to become redundant, creating a staffing crisis next term. Some face compulsory redundancy and many others are reluctantly accepting redundancy rather than compromise their professional integrity as they are convinced that new work pressures will drive down quality at the college. 

The bitter dispute has already led to five days of strike action and protests by students in support of their teachers. UCU members have agreed to take further strike action next term. The union is also seeking a public inquiry into the running of the college and has suggested it should be chaired by local MP Bill Rammell. It has also called for the resignation of the chair of the college's governing body.

Staff are holding a lunchtime protest today and students are likely to show their support.

Many teaching staff were yesterday sobbing as they made their decisions to take redundancy and leave the college. As many as 97 of 179 teaching staff are set to leave, many of them today.

Liz Martins, UCU regional official said: 'I have never seen an employer treat its staff like this. Teaching staff are devastated. Many are leaving now and more will follow. The college will have a staffing crisis next year and a decline in the quality of the courses it will be able to offer. Sadly, this will have a damaging effect on the local community.

Barry Lovejoy, head of further education at UCU said: 'The union has done everything possible to find a solution to this dispute  but the college has refused to provide adequate safeguards against excessive workloads. UCU will be advising its members not to apply for jobs at Harlow, which is set to become a pariah college.  We are still looking for a way to resolve this, but it seems the college is not. '