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Further Education Sector Conference

UCU Congress 2014: Thursday 29 May 2014, 14:00 -18:30

Section 3 of the NEC's report to Congress 2014:
UCU568.html | UCU568.rtf

See also:

Motions:

FE1 - Pay England
FE2 - Needs of casualised in FE pay claim and industrial action
FE3 - Attacks on bargaining rights
FE4 - Sexual harassment and sexual bullying in the sector
FE5 - Racial discrimination within FE
FE6 - Black workers and activism within FE
FE7 - Monitoring
FE8 - Benefit reform and impact on women
FE9 - Zero-hours contracts in FE
FE10 - Part-time and casualised lecturers
FE11 - Efficiency savings and impact on casualised staff
FE12 - Filling staff vacancies
FE13 - Professional development/performance management/The Learner Voice
FE14 - Professionalism rather than performance management
L3 - Attacks on Lambeth College

FE15 - Lesson observation
FE16 - FE lesson observation policy
FE17 - Ofsted
FE18 - Workload
FE19 - FE funding cuts
FE20 - Adult education and ESOL
FE21 - Support for adult community learning
FE22 - Defending adult education
FE23 - Access to HE/loans
FE24 - 14-16 year olds in FE college
FE25 - FE governance
FE26 - Revocation of Incorporation
FE27 - The University Technical College and other adventures
FE28 - Management's failure to follow procedures in dealing with student complaints

(EP) advisory marking
denoting UCU existing policy

Joint union pay claim, paragraphs 1.1 - 1.11

FE1 (EP) Pay England - Further Education Committee

Conference notes in the last four years in England:

  • no single pay recommendation has reached 1%
  • the last four increases combined are less than 2%
  • the real-terms loss of pay in the same period is 16%

Colleges said they have no ability to adequately reward staff however:

  • 72% of colleges have been paying off debt
  • staff costs as a % of college income continues to fall
  • FE principals' pay rose 50.7% in ten years, 2.7 times the recommended increases for FE staff

Conference believes that many colleges have choices in how they allocate income but are not prioritising staff costs.

Conference notes that the vast majority of colleges support negotiations between the AoC and unions on the basis they do not have to implement the outcome. Conference supports the development of a strategy to apply targeted pressure in order to achieve meaningful national bargaining.

CARRIED AS AMENDED (by all except FE1A.2)

FE1A.1 Further Education Committee

Add to end of motion the following:

'Conference notes the initial report from the FEC on developing a strategy for meaningful collective bargaining in the FE, Adult and Prison sectors.'

CARRIED

FE1A.2 Tower Hamlets College

In 'Conference notes', add:

'NUT national strike in June.'

After sentence beginning 'Conference believes', add:

'1 That members are more confident to strike over pay when UCU is part of coordinated action with other unions.'

Add at end motion:

'Conference resolves to:

1 strike action alongside the NUT in June as part of our campaign to secure our claim

2 send a message of solidarity to the NUT.'

LOST

FE1A.3 North West FE Sector Committee

In 'Conference notes' add:

'30 percent of colleges do not implement NJF/AoC pay recommendations

the new Welsh national framework for pay and conditions.'

After sentence beginning 'Conference believes', add:

'1 UCU should campaign for a nationally binding negotiating framework

2 that local benchmarks on pay can help set a precedent at a national level.'

Add at end of motion: 'Conference resolves to launch a campaign of national and targeted strike action to secure our claim and a binding national negotiating framework.'

CARRIED

FE1A.4 City and Islington College

In 'Conference notes', add:

'UCU's live ballot means we're well placed to shape 2014 pay negotiations

the AoC offer.'

After sentence beginning 'Conference believes', add:

'1 national and targeted strike action can deliver a decent pay award.'

Add at end of motion:

Conference resolves to:
'• coordinate strike action with other unions where possible
• campaign through targeted action within a frame of nationally escalating strike action
• lobby the pay talks
• support the TUC's pay demonstration in October.'

CARRIED

FE1A.5 East Midlands FE Regional Committee

Add at end:

'In order to be meaningful and to give negotiators a realistic chance of success, this strategy must include the possibility of strike action. Any such action will have to be escalating and form part of a strategy of working with other Education unions. This strategy to be articulated to members through all possible channels.'

CARRIED

FE1A.6 Chesterfield College

In 'Conference notes', add at end:

'in 2008 action alongside the NUT secured the highest pay settlement since the AUT/Natfhe merger

the AoC's failure to make an offer in April'

After sentence beginning 'Conference believes', add:

'1 one day national strike action after pay negotiations have ended is the least effective strategy

2 the most effective strategy has been early strike action to influence the pay talks.'

Add at end of motion:

'Conference resolves to continue campaigning for the 2014 pay claim.'

CARRIED

FE1A.7 South East FE Sector Committee

Insert new paragraph at end of motion:

'Conference notes the use of 2-hour strikes when carefully timed to enable them to be used as effective publicity events in the HE pay campaign and agrees that such action should be a part of industrial action for FE pay campaigns.'

CARRIED

FE1A.8 South East FE Sector Committee

At end of last sentence of the motion add:

'but is adamant that bargaining must remain national.'

CARRIED

FE1A.9 West Midlands FE Sector Council

Add at end of motion:

'Conference resolves:

1 to include workload in next year's pay claim

2 to campaign under the slogan, 'The conditions that teachers teach in are the conditions that students learn in'

3 to call upon the AoC to join UCU in setting up a 'national workload forum' to examine the effect of workload increase.'

CARRIED

Substantive motion

Conference notes in the last four years in England:

  • no single pay recommendation has reached 1%
  • the last four increases combined are less than 2%
  • the real-terms loss of pay in the same period is 16%
  • 30 percent of colleges do not implement NJF/AoC pay recommendations
  • the new Welsh national framework for pay and conditions
  • UCU's live ballot means we're well placed to shape 2014 pay negotiations
  • the AoC offer
  • in 2008 action alongside the NUT secured the highest pay settlement since the AUT/Natfhe merger
  • the AoC's failure to make an offer in April.

Colleges said they have no ability to adequately reward staff however:

  • 72% of colleges have been paying off debt
  • staff costs as a % of college income continues to fall
  • FE principals' pay rose 50.7% in ten years, 2.7 times the recommended increases for FE staff.

Conference believes that many colleges have choices in how they allocate income but are not prioritising staff costs:

  1. one day national strike action after pay negotiations have ended is the least effective strategy
  2. the most effective strategy has been early strike action to influence the pay talksnational and targeted strike action can deliver a decent pay award
  3. UCU should campaign for a nationally binding negotiating framework
  4. that local benchmarks on pay can help set a precedent at a national level.

Conference notes that the vast majority of colleges support negotiations between the AoC and unions on the basis they do not have to implement the outcome. Conference supports the development of a strategy to apply targeted pressure in order to achieve meaningful national bargaining but is adamant that bargaining must remain national.

Conference notes the initial report from the FEC on developing a strategy for meaningful collective bargaining in the FE, adult and prison sectors.

Conference resolves to launch a campaign of national and targeted strike action to secure our claim and a binding national negotiating framework.

Conference resolves to:

  • coordinate strike action with other unions where possible
  • campaign through targeted action within a frame of nationally escalating strike action
  • lobby the pay talks
  • support the TUC's pay demonstration in October.

In order to be meaningful and to give negotiators a realistic chance of success, this strategy must include the possibility of strike action. Any such action will have to be escalating and form part of a strategy of working with other Education unions. This strategy to be articulated to members through all possible channels.

Conference resolves to continue campaigning for the 2014 pay claim.

Conference notes the use of 2-hour strikes when carefully timed to enable them to be used as effective publicity events in the HE pay campaign and agrees that such action should be a part of industrial action for FE pay campaigns.

Conference resolves:

  1. to include workload in next year's pay claim
  2. to campaign under the slogan, 'The conditions that teachers teach in are the conditions that students learn in'
  3. to call upon the AoC to join UCU in setting up a 'National Workload forum' to examine the effect of workload increase.

FE2 Needs of casualised in FE pay claim and industrial action - Anti Casualisation Committee

FESC notes:

  • continuing attacks on FE include replacement of permanent contracts with insecure and part-time ones
  • sessional tutors, agency workers, those on zero-hours contracts and other vulnerably employed members can face an increased risk to future work through participation in strike action.

FESC strongly urges:

  • FEC to incorporate vulnerable/casualised employment as an issue in future industrial action, and in FE pay claims
  • that strike monies are available to part-time hourly paid and other low paid members where they apply for them
  • the production of publicity materials referring to job security for the vulnerable, and advice to branches on the position of vulnerably employed members, supporting industrial action
  • the national negotiators to consider how:
    • proposed action will affect vulnerably employed members specifically
    • to organise and train vulnerably employed tutors, trainers, assessors etc to participate fully in defending terms and conditions in FE and Adult Education.

CARRIED


FE3 Attacks on bargaining rights - Barnsley College

This conference recognises that increasing numbers of teaching staff in further education are employed on contracts that are not on the main lecturer scale but are classified as 'support staff' with inferior pay and holiday entitlement. Some colleges have refused to recognise UCU as the union with bargaining rights for these staff and tell them that their union should be UNISON or GMB.

Conference instructs UCU:

  1. to approach UNISON nationally to agree a joint statement identifying types of staff in colleges that each union should represent
  2. to use the agreement with UNISON to approach the Association of Colleges to agree guidance to colleges recommending giving UCU bargaining rights for the staff agreed
  3. to publicise the unfairness of the situation in which the main teaching union for further education is not given bargaining rights for substantial numbers of teachers in the sector.

REMITTED

Rename paragraph 3: Equality issues, paragraphs 3.1 - 3.2

FE4 Sexual Harassment and Sexual Bullying in the Sector - Women Members' Standing Committee

Conference calls for a campaign to address the experiences of women/girls (staff and students) in relation to their experiences of sexual harassment and sexual bullying.

The NUS and others have drawn attention to 'laddish culture' and shows how this diminishes the learning experience of women/girls.  One young woman defined sexual bullying as: 'Groping, grabbing, insults, swear words, stereotypical gender roles, when appearance and sexuality are demonised.' Evidence shows that this cuts across all aspects of their experience in education; in the classroom, corridors, social space both inside and outside colleges and in cyberspace. 

Conference calls for a report for next year's conference that draws together research evidence and produces strategies for institutions and individuals to tackle this - to include:

  • a review of joint UCU/AoC agreements 
  • ways to links with other unions and campaigning groups
  • practical advice and support for members on how to tackle issues.

CARRIED


FE5 Racial discrimination within FE - Black Members' Standing Committee

Conference notes the high level of participation of black students in FE; the relatively low level of black staff - especially amongst senior management, and increasing concerns of black members due to racial discrimination. Black workers experience disproportionate levels of harassment, bullying, disciplinary procedures and unequal changes in terms and conditions.

Conference is concerned about the lack of implementation of previous Congress motions to address racism within FE.

Conference calls on the UCU to:

  • implement previous Congress motions
  • work with the BMSC to train and support black caseworkers and enable black members to have access to black caseworkers
  • provide training courses within the regions and devolved nations designed to encourage and empower black activism across UCU structures
  • collect and share data with the Equality self-organised groups on grievance, disciplinary, redundancies and contractual changes
  • work with local communities and ant-racist organisations to oppose all discrimination in FE.

CARRIED


FE6 Black workers and activism within FE - Black Members' Standing Committee

Conference notes that Black workers have been disproportionately affected by cuts and austerity measures in FE, resulting in redundancies, zero hour contracts, part-time and casualised working and reductions in pay and conditions.

Conference calls on the UCU to:

  • work with black activists to set-up Black Members Group within FE branches, regions and devolved nations
  • take positive measures to ensure race equality is on the agenda of branches, regions and devolved nations
  • include race equality training for all UCU staff and negotiators
  • prepare a list of trained black caseworkers and make the list available to any black members who wish to seek support from someone on the list
  • research and share statistics ethnicity with the BMSC on national changes in employment, grades and pay within FE
  • produce annual ethnic monitoring breakdown of all UCU staff in terms of ethnicity, gender, disability, grades and location.

CARRIED


FE7 Monitoring - LGBT Members' Standing Committee

Conference notes work undertaken by NIACE to advance equality in the FE sector including the accompanying monitoring form. Conference welcomes the thinking and promotion given to non heteronormative and non binary identities in the sexual orientation and sex categories. Conference also welcomes the optional use of title prefix.

Conference recognises that Mr, Mrs, Ms etc prefixes, essentialist Heterosexual, Lesbian, Gay and Bi identities and Male/ Female binary categories do not have meaning for everyone. Conference notes that polar positions are in decline each generation. Conference also notes that this reflects discussions at international level such as Australia and Nepal in relation to gender identities within monitoring forms.

Conference calls on FEC to:

  • engage in promotion of non heteronormative and non binary identities awareness
  • support promotion in FE of the NIACE monitoring form
  • lobby for development in UCU's own monitoring practices along the lines of the NIACE form.

CARRIED


FE8 Benefit reform and impact on women - Women Members' Standing Committee

Conference notes:

That the impact of benefit 'reform' and changes to FE funding are putting severe pressure on all further education students-threatening courses and jobs. They impact women specifically:

  1. women make up 64% of the 24+ FE cohort studying at level 3+ and being less likely to take up tuition fee loans than men are likely to drop out of level 3+ study disproportionately.
  2. lone parents (disproportionately women) moved from income support to JSA when their youngest child turns five years are often forced to leave vocational course pathways below level 3 without sufficient study to provide meaningful employment.

Conference resolves:

  • to campaign for the right of unemployed people to participate in part time further education and obtain meaningful qualifications
  • to highlight in our campaigning the impact of these austerity measures on women.

Conference instructs officers and officials to support branches campaigning including organising a parliamentary meeting/lobby.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

FE8A.1 Further Education Committee

In the last paragraph, delete 'instructs officers and officials' and replace with 'calls on UCU'

CARRIED (with drafting amendment: replace with 'calls on UCU elected officers')

Substantive motion

Conference notes:

That the impact of benefit 'reform' and changes to FE funding are putting severe pressure on all further education students-threatening courses and jobs. They impact women specifically:

  1. women make up 64% of the 24+ FE cohort studying at level 3+ and being less likely to take up tuition fee loans than men are likely to drop out of level 3+ study disproportionately.
  2. lone parents (disproportionately women) moved from income support to JSA when their youngest child turns five years are often forced to leave vocational course pathways below level 3 without sufficient study to provide meaningful employment.

Conference resolves:

  • to campaign for the right of unemployed people to participate in part time further education and obtain meaningful qualifications
  • to highlight in our campaigning the impact of these austerity measures on women.

Conference calls on UCU elected officers to support branches campaigning including organising a parliamentary meeting/lobby.

Redundancies and defending conditions of service, paragraphs 4.1 - 4.2

FE9 (EP) Zero-hours contracts in FE - Further Education Committee

Conference notes the extensive work done by UCU on this issue since the last conference. This work has included conducting research to establish for the first time the true scale of the use of zero-hours contracts in FE.

Conference notes the findings of UCU's freedom of information request research and that:

  • 60% of the 200 responding colleges use zero-hours contracts
  • around 30% of all teaching staff in theses colleges are on zero-hours contracts
  • 40% of colleges find other ways to address the need for flexibility than using these contracts.

Conference supports action already taken to support branches with high numbers of zero-hours contracts and pledges to continue campaigning against the use of such contracts by targeting those colleges that have the highest proportion of staff on zero-hours contracts.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

FE9A.1 North West FE Sector Committee

Add to end:

'Conference calls on the FEC to develop a broad definition of zero-hours contracts to include the use of agencies and contracts that are effectively zero-hours even though they are not identified by college management as such.'

CARRIED

Substantive motion

Conference notes the extensive work done by UCU on this issue since the last conference. This work has included conducting research to establish for the first time the true scale of the use of zero-hours contracts in FE.

Conference notes the findings of UCU's freedom of information request research and that:

  • 60% of the 200 responding colleges use zero-hours contracts
  • around 30% of all teaching staff in theses colleges are on zero-hours contracts
  • 40% of colleges find other ways to address the need for flexibility than using these contracts.

Conference supports action already taken to support branches with high numbers of zero-hours contracts and pledges to continue campaigning against the use of such contracts by targeting those colleges that have the highest proportion of staff on zero-hours contracts.

Conference calls on the FEC to develop a broad definition of zero-hours contracts to include the use of agencies and contracts that are effectively zero-hours even though they are not identified by college management as such.


FE10 Part-time and casualised lecturers - Barnet & Southgate College, Barnet & Hendon

Conference notes:

  • progress in UCU's 'Stamp Out Casualisation' campaign
  • the continued failure, by most colleges, to meet legal obligations and their own equality policies. Too many staff, particularly women, are hourly-paid (often on zero-hours contracts or agency workers). Many colleges have failed to address the situation at all, resulting in staff leaving in frustration
  • that the employment of so many casualised staff inevitably impacts adversely on quality of delivery, but that the public, students and parents are largely unaware of the facts
  • the success of a small number of Branches in several equal pay cases
  • UCU legal department's renewed determination to pursue deserving cases.

Conference instructs FEC to arrange to:

  1. prepare publicity material for members specifically aimed at equal pay
  2. re-launch an upgraded 'Stamp Out Casualisation' campaign
  3. present new proposals to the AoC for a national agreement on ordered progression to established posts for part-timers.

CARRIED


FE11 (EP) Efficiency savings and impact on casualised staff - Anti Casualisation Committee

FESC:

  • notes FE managements seeking to renegotiate contracts of employment for lecturers on secure open ended contracts in order to implement 'efficiency savings', and the disproportionate impact this has on casualised members in terms of loss of hours/work.
  • calls on UCU and branches to:
  1. continue resisting the worsening of terms and conditions in 'efficiency savings' and contract re-negotiation drives by managements
  2. assess impact on hourly paid staff in terms of threat to their volume of work and hours whilst also continuing to demand secure contracts of employment for them
  3. use the information from impact assessment to illustrate the adverse impact on casualised members and encourage moves towards secure open ended contracts.

CARRIED


FE12 Filling staff vacancies - Barnet & Southgate College, Southgate

Conference notes the wealth of anecdotal evidence that few colleges carry out normal employment practice when vacancies arise i.e. by advertising immediately for a replacement. Instead a College frequently seizes the opportunity to employ lower-paid staff and classes are delivered for long periods by cover, hourly-paid or agency staff and even unqualified technicians. This contributes to the maybe 20 - 40% of all FE teaching being delivered by casualised staff. While not suggesting that such replacements are poor teachers, the lack of permanence, continuity and investment in these staff is deeply damaging to student confidence and educational quality. Serious equality issues also apply.

Conference believes that if students, parents and the public knew the truth there would be a national scandal and colleges would be forced to revise their practices.

Conference instructs FEC to:

  1. organise a national survey of branches to gather evidence
  2. publish a report of the findings.

CARRIED


FE13 (EP) Professional Development/Performance Management/The Learner Voice - South East FE Sector Committee

This sector conference notes that in most colleges:

  1. staff are given little or no support for professional development
  2. are very rarely praised or encouraged
  3. are constantly subjected to a regime of harassment and suspicion where the emphasis is on performance management and the 'learner voice' is taken as the most important factor
  4. many decisions are made by management on the basis of an uncritical deference to the 'learner voice' and 'learner experience'
  5. the consequences of this are a denigration of professional authority and the treatment of learners as consumers and that both are to the detriment of learners' education.

This sector conference instructs its officers[/officials - deleted] to mount a campaign to:

  1. ensure that all staff are able to access appropriate quality professional development
  2. protect staff from constant harassment
  3. promote the value of FE staff
  4. oppose the redefinition of the learner as a consumer and challenge the deference to the 'learner voice'.

CARRIED (with drafting amendment)

FE13A.1 Further Education Committee

Replace the sentence that starts the second section (after (e)) with the following:

'This sector conference calls on UCU to continue to campaign to:'

LOST


FE14 Professionalism rather than Performance Management City of Liverpool College, Bankfield

Conference is increasingly concerned about the levels of performance management in the sector. The reliance on micro-management rather than a respect for the professionalism of teachers is resulting in a deterioration of the service and resulting in members leaving the sector and/or suffering from long-term stress related conditions.

Conference calls for:

  • a resurgence of the teacher as professional debate within the union.
  • The FEC to campaign for the re-instatement of the requirement for teachers to be qualified to teach
  • Negotiations with the Education and Training Foundation and the employers to identify systematic ways for valuing teaching and teachers in the sector.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

FE14A.1 Southern FE Sector Committee

Add at end of paragraph one, after 'conditions' :

'A further attack on professionalism is the increasing use of support staff to undertake teaching duties within FE colleges.'

Delete the second bullet point and replace as follows:

'The FEC to campaign for the re-instatement of the requirement for all staff who teach to be qualified to teach and to be employed on a teacher's contract.'

CARRIED

Substantive motion

Conference is increasingly concerned about the levels of performance management in the sector. The reliance on micro-management rather than a respect for the professionalism of teachers is resulting in a deterioration of the service and resulting in members leaving the sector and/or suffering from long-term stress related conditions. A further attack on professionalism is the increasing use of support staff to undertake teaching duties within FE colleges.

Conference calls for:

  • a resurgence of the teacher as professional debate within the union
  • the FEC to campaign for the re-instatement of the requirement for all staff who teach to be qualified to teach and to be employed on a teacher's contract
  • negotiations with the Education and Training Foundation and the employers to identify systematic ways for valuing teaching and teachers in the sector.

L3 Attacks on Lambeth College - Lambeth College

Conference notes:

  1. Lambeth College's decision to serve a 188 notice
  2. the AoC's prediction in its funding report that 'between 50 and 100 colleges will go to the wall within the next two years.'

Conference Condemns:

  1. Lambeth College's continued assault on staff contracts and jobs
  2. the 1000s of jobs being cut within Further and Adult Education.

Conference believes:

  1. that Lambeth College are attempting to break the union through targeted redundancy trawls.

Conference resolves:

  1. to call upon the FEC to organise national action, including strike action, to defend jobs and education
  2. to give full support to all those colleges fighting to defend jobs and education
  3. to send a letter of condemnation from UCU to the principal of Lambeth College.

CARRIED

Lesson observation, paragraphs 5.1 - 5.6

FE15 Composite: lesson observation - New College Nottingham, College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London, Yorkshire and Humberside FE Sector Committee, East Midlands FE Sector Committee

Conference notes the continuing prominence of graded lesson observations as a source of rancour, conflict and stress for lecturers.

We recognise that this represents one of the biggest attacks on our conditions of employment and professional status that we have faced and as such, it is incumbent on UCU to mount a vigorous campaign.

UCU believes that teaching and Learning Observations that are developmental and ungraded, when used within a supportive framework, can be a highly effective method of developing classroom practice and teacher confidence.

Many colleges appear very keen to promote an experimental or innovative approach at present (COPPS). However, the present system only reinforces the importance of 'playing safe' as a Grade 3 or 4 may lead to a capability charge against a well-qualified and experienced lecturer. Many lecturers experience observations as punitive and highly stressful. Observations are used in many colleges as a tool to control and discipline teachers.

Conference calls on FEC to draw on the research undertaken by Professor Matt O'Leary and to actively support branches that are experiencing observation policies that have been imposed on their members without a meaningful negotiation with UCU.

The recent research by Dr Matt O'Leary makes a number of recommendations that can be used as a starting point:

  1. explore alternative supportive models of observation
  2. prioritise the professional development needs of staff
  3. formal allocation of timetabled hours for observation: pre-observation, feedback and feed-forward meetings
  4. need for a multi-dimensional model of teacher assessment
  5. stop relying on the Ofsted 4-point scale to assess and measure observations.

Conference notes:

  • the increasingly draconian lesson observation policies being used in the FE sector
  • the recent research by Matt O'Leary and others suggesting that graded lesson observations have little or no value
  • the attempts by management at some colleges to introduce harsh new observation regimes, including the graded re-observation of teachers who obtain a Grade 3
  • the punitive, as opposed to supportive, use of graded observations, including in some instances the linking of Grade 3 to capability procedures and possible dismissal
  • that graded observations are often based on spurious criteria and have little pedagogical value
  • that they are used by managements as a method of controlling and bullying teachers rather than of genuinely improving their performance.

Conference resolves to:

  • make use of the O'Leary research to arm branches with additional guidance in their struggle with management
  • campaign nationally, regionally and at branch level for a minimum requirement of non-graded observations and no link with Capability procedures
  • consider other courses of action such as balloting members for organised boycotts of graded lesson observations, already carried out by some branches
  • campaign for the abolition of graded observations across the sector
  • that the union offers its full support to branches in dispute over observations
  • mandate the FEC to develop a toolkit on observations.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

FE15A.1 Disabled Members' Standing Committee

Add at end of paragraph 3 'Observations are also often used as a capability mechanism for disabled staff working without secured reasonable adjustments and/or any formal acknowledgment by management on how an impairment can impact on the ability to undertake certain tasks.'

Add bullet point at end of motion:

'ensure that all the actions above take into account and include the issues facing disabled staff in lesson observation.'

CARRIED

Substantive motion

Conference notes the continuing prominence of graded lesson observations as a source of rancour, conflict and stress for lecturers.

We recognise that this represents one of the biggest attacks on our conditions of employment and professional status that we have faced and as such, it is incumbent on UCU to mount a vigorous campaign.

UCU believes that teaching and lesson observations that are developmental and ungraded, when used within a supportive framework, can be a highly effective method of developing classroom practice and teacher confidence. Observations are also often used as a capability mechanism for disabled staff working without secured reasonable adjustments and/or any formal acknowledgment by management on how an impairment can impact on the ability to undertake certain tasks.

Many colleges appear very keen to promote an experimental or innovative approach at present (COPPS). However, the present system only reinforces the importance of 'playing safe' as a Grade 3 or 4 may lead to a capability charge against a well-qualified and experienced lecturer. Many lecturers experience observations as punitive and highly stressful. Observations are used in many colleges as a tool to control and discipline teachers.

Conference calls on FEC to draw on the research undertaken by Professor Matt O'Leary and to actively support branches that are experiencing observation policies that have been imposed on their members without a meaningful negotiation with UCU.

The recent research by Dr Matt O'Leary makes a number of recommendations that can be used as a starting point:

  1. explore alternative supportive models of observation
  2. prioritise the professional development needs of staff
  3. formal allocation of timetabled hours for observation: pre-observation, feedback and feed-forward meetings
  4. need for a multi-dimensional model of teacher assessment
  5. stop relying on the Ofsted 4-point scale to assess and measure observations.

Conference notes:

  • the increasingly draconian lesson observation policies being used in the FE sector
  • the recent research by Matt O'Leary and others suggesting that graded lesson observations have little or no value
  • the attempts by management at some colleges to introduce harsh new observation regimes, including the graded re-observation of teachers who obtain a Grade 3
  • the punitive, as opposed to supportive, use of graded observations, including in some instances the linking of Grade 3 to capability procedures and possible dismissal
  • that graded observations are often based on spurious criteria and have little pedagogical value
  • that they are used by managements as a method of controlling and bullying teachers rather than of genuinely improving their performance.

Conference resolves to:

  • make use of the O'Leary research to arm branches with additional guidance in their struggle with management
  • campaign nationally, regionally and at branch level for a minimum requirement of non-graded observations and no link with Capability procedures
  • consider other courses of action such as balloting members for organised boycotts of graded lesson observations, already carried out by some branches
  • campaign for the abolition of graded observations across the sector
  • that the union offers its full support to branches in dispute over observations
  • mandate the FEC to develop a toolkit on observations
  • ensure that all the actions above take into account and include the issues facing disabled staff in lesson observation.

FE16 FE lesson observation policy - Further Education Committee

Conference notes:

  • the research report by Dr Matt O'Leary commissioned by UCU;
  • growing concern in branches over graded observations which treat lesson observations as primarily capability and performance indicators;
  • some management have sought to remove safeguards such as negative preference, realistic observation windows, acceptable periods of notification.

Conference believes lesson observations should:

  • incorporate the O'Leary report recommendations, ie they should be supportive mechanisms for better professional learning, disaggregated from performance indicators
  • include elements of professional self-assessment, peer review and practical teaching support, and should appreciate the need for contextualising teaching
  • include timetabled feedback.

Conference resolves to:

  • step up campaigning for developmental, ungraded observations
  • encourage regional FE committees to identify one or more colleges in which to encourage campaigns for such observation policies
  • ensure that every college observation policy has been agreed with the UCU branch subject to UCU national guidelines.

CARRIED

New paragraph, Ofsted, after paragraph 5.6

FE17 Ofsted - West Midlands FE Sector Council

Conference notes its opposition to the Ofsted inspection system recognising the detrimental effect it has on education and lectures lives.

Conference further notes Ofsted has created a culture of fear and loathing within our colleges and no longer carries any respect within the profession.

We believe that apart from the obvious impact it has on the workload, stress and health of lecturers, the inspections are not conducive to providing a good quality balanced education for students.

Conference resolves to:

  1. campaign for non-cooperation with Ofsted inspection arrangements
  2. ballot members to support a boycott of Ofsted and all consultative inspections around the Ofsted framework
  3. campaign for the abolition of Ofsted
  4. campaign for a bottom-up college based self evaluation framework to replace Ofsted with a system more appropriate for FE
  5. publicise the public money being spent on consultants and mock inspections for the 'Ofsted readiness' industry.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

FE17A.1 Further Education Committee

In every instance that Ofsted is mentioned, except for in point 5), follow 'Ofsted' with '/ESTYN'.

CARRIED

Substantive motion

Conference notes its opposition to the Ofsted/ESTYN inspection system recognising the detrimental effect it has on education and lectures lives.

Conference further notes Ofsted/ESTYN has created a culture of fear and loathing within our colleges and no longer carries any respect within the profession.

We believe that apart from the obvious impact it has on the workload, stress and health of lecturers, the inspections are not conducive to providing a good quality balanced education for students.

Conference resolves to:

  1. campaign for non-cooperation with Ofsted/ESTYN inspection arrangements
  2. ballot members to support a boycott of Ofsted/ESTYN and all consultative inspections around the Ofsted/ESTYN framework
  3. campaign for the abolition of Ofsted/ESTYN
  4. campaign for a bottom-up college based self evaluation framework to replace Ofsted/ESTYN with a system more appropriate for FE
  5. publicise the public money being spent on consultants and mock inspections for the 'Ofsted readiness' industry.

Workloads, paragraph 6.1

FE18 Workload North West - FE Sector Committee

This conference believes that increased workloads are due largely to duplication and sometimes triplication in recording data.

In order to alleviate this workload, staff should not be expected to:

  • enter data in more than one place
  • do withdrawals and transfers
  • provide management with data that is already centrally held
  • carry out administration tasks relating to the enrolment process
  • back mark registers

Conference calls on the FE Committee to draw up a checklist for branches in negotiating arrangements around workloads.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

FE18A.1 Further Education Committee

In the second paragraph after the word 'workload', add 'teaching'.

CARRIED

FE18A.2 East Midlands FE Sector Committee

Delete last full stop.

Add at end: 'and asks for regional committees to work with branches to determine effective work to rule actions in order to achieve the desired outcome for members.'

CARRIED

Substantive motion

This conference believes that increased workloads are due largely to duplication and sometimes triplication in recording data.

In order to alleviate this teaching workload, staff should not be expected to:

  • enter data in more than one place
  • do withdrawals and transfers
  • provide management with data that is already centrally held
  • carry out administration tasks relating to the enrolment process
  • back mark registers

Conference calls on the FE Committee to draw up a checklist for branches in negotiating arrangements around workloads and asks for regional committees to work with branches to determine effective work to rule actions in order to achieve the desired outcome for members.

New paragraph, funding, after paragraph 6.1

FE19 (EP) Composite: FE funding cuts - Further Education Committee, London Regional Committee, Southern FE Sector Committee, Yorkshire and Humberside FE Sector Committee, Oxford and Cherwell Valley College, North West FE Sector Committee

Conference notes the government has decided to cut funding for 18 year olds studying in England. From next year, 18 year-old students in England will see their funding cut by 17.5%. The cuts will mean that 18 year olds in colleges will be funded at a lower rate that 16 and 17 year olds. The move, as part of George Osborne's Autumn Statement, comes as the compulsory education age goes up to 18, and is bad news for students and for colleges.

Conference deplores the continued government cuts to funding for FE and in particular:

  • EFA cut to 18 year old funding
  • 19+ apprentice funding frozen, and
  • Remainder of Adult Skills Budget cut 15%

Across England, the move is expected to affect around 100,000 young people, and while numbers affected will vary from college to college it will make it much more difficult for FE colleges to make adequate provision for this group of students. Also FE colleges are likely to be disproportionately affected, compared to schools, because of the larger number of 18+ students.

This conference rejects the government's cut in funding for 18+ students. This will hit those students who need extra time to achieve their qualifications and who are often those in most need of extra support. It will impact hardest on the most disadvantaged and undermine the ability of the further education sector to offer a second chance to those who do not succeed at school.

For lecturers, this will lead to workload increases, cutting courses, combining classes and redundancies.

For students, it also has a disproportionate effect on those with support needs. Furthermore, it seriously disadvantages student progression and opportunities for training and re-training. This is an equality issue.

For the economy, this goes against the alleged government intention to have a skilled workforce.

This all comes after four years of already savage cuts resulting in mass redundancies and increased workloads for those who remain.

All this coming at a time when the government wants to increase education participation to 18 years and while further education plays a vital role give choices and second chances to an otherwise new generation lost to under employment.

Conference supports the union's past campaigning on funding such as the Knowledge Economy initiative and the parliamentary lobby held on 2 April 2014.

We commend UCU for its response to this issue and call upon the FEC to intensify the campaign against these appallingly pernicious cuts, working with regions, branches, other unions, the AOC, employers, students, parents, the media and other stakeholders to fight for a reversal of this cut, and the implementation of adequate funding for FE and adult students.

Conference agrees to make a campaign against this policy a priority and calls on FEC to:

  • lead on an urgent campaign that is able to quantify the impact of these cuts and that challenges the government's agenda to focus cuts on the most vulnerable
  • continue to campaign together with other appropriate organisations for increased funding for further education
  • mount a UCU publicity campaign alerting students, parents and college staff to this change.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

FE19A.1 Black Members' Standing Committee

Add at the end of the motion a 4th bullet point as follows:

'carry out research to ascertain and identify the specific group of students and staff who have been most disadvantaged by cuts in FE funding such as black, women, and disabled people and identify the particular disadvantages they have suffered in respect of their life chances and careers.'

CARRIED

Substantive motion

Conference notes the government has decided to cut funding for 18 year olds studying in England. From next year, 18 year-old students in England will see their funding cut by 17.5%. The cuts will mean that 18 year olds in colleges will be funded at a lower rate that 16 and 17 year olds. The move, as part of George Osborne's Autumn Statement, comes as the compulsory education age goes up to 18, and is bad news for students and for colleges.

Conference deplores the continued government cuts to funding for FE and in particular:

  • EFA cut to 18 year old funding
  • 19+ apprentice funding frozen, and
  • Remainder of Adult Skills Budget cut 15%

Across England, the move is expected to affect around 100,000 young people, and while numbers affected will vary from college to college it will make it much more difficult for FE colleges to make adequate provision for this group of students. Also FE colleges are likely to be disproportionately affected, compared to schools, because of the larger number of 18+ students.

This conference rejects the government's cut in funding for 18+ students. This will hit those students who need extra time to achieve their qualifications and who are often those in most need of extra support. It will impact hardest on the most disadvantaged and undermine the ability of the further education sector to offer a second chance to those who do not succeed at school.

For lecturers, this will lead to workload increases, cutting courses, combining classes and redundancies.

For students, it also has a disproportionate effect on those with support needs. Furthermore, it seriously disadvantages student progression and opportunities for training and re-training. This is an equality issue.

For the economy, this goes against the alleged government intention to have a skilled workforce.

This all comes after four years of already savage cuts resulting in mass redundancies and increased workloads for those who remain.

All this coming at a time when the government wants to increase education participation to 18 years and while further education plays a vital role give choices and second chances to an otherwise new generation lost to under employment.

Conference supports the union's past campaigning on funding such as the Knowledge Economy initiative and the parliamentary lobby held on 2 April 2014.

We commend UCU for its response to this issue and call upon the FEC to intensify the campaign against these appallingly pernicious cuts, working with regions, branches, other unions, the AOC, employers, students, parents, the media and other stakeholders to fight for a reversal of this cut, and the implementation of adequate funding for FE and adult students.

Conference agrees to make a campaign against this policy a priority and calls on FEC to:

  • lead on an urgent campaign that is able to quantify the impact of these cuts and that challenges the government's agenda to focus cuts on the most vulnerable
  • continue to campaign together with other appropriate organisations for increased funding for further education
  • mount a UCU publicity campaign alerting students, parents and college staff to this change
  • carry out research to ascertain and identify the specific group of students and staff who have been most disadvantaged by cuts in FE funding such as black, women, and disabled people and identify the particular disadvantages they have suffered in respect of their life chances and careers.

New paragraph, adult education and ESOL

FE20 Adult education and ESOL - Lambeth College

Conference notes the drastic cut in adult funding for this year; the changes in delivery of ESOL which will mean a cut in guided learning hours of up to 70%; the success of the Action for ESOL campaign 2 years ago in pushing back attacks on ESOL provision

Conference believes that adult education is in danger of disappearing completely; that ESOL provision will be doubly hit by the cut in adult funding and the changes to delivery; that a national campaign to defend all of Adult Education is urgently needed to defend ESOL alongside the other areas of adult education

Conference resolves to launch a national campaign to defend the whole of Adult Education and to look to the successes of Action for ESOL as part of building that campaign; and to call an organising conference as soon as possible.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

FE20A.1 LGBT Members' Standing Committee

After the second paragraph, add:

'Conference notes that members of already marginalised groups in society - LGBT people, BME and disabled people, women and older people especially - are being further marginalised by the impact of the cuts to adult education and ESOL by closing off first and second chance options, increasing social isolation, and undermining quality of life.'

CARRIED

FE20A.2 Lambeth College

After 'Conference resolves to', add: '1. Investigate the impact of these attacks on BME and disabled staff and students. 2.'

CARRIED

FE20A.3 Women Members' Standing Committee

Last paragraph, after 'adult education', insert ', to highlight the gender impact of these cuts'

CARRIED

Substantive motion

Conference notes the drastic cut in adult funding for this year; the changes in delivery of ESOL which will mean a cut in guided learning hours of up to 70%; the success of the Action for ESOL campaign 2 years ago in pushing back attacks on ESOL provision

Conference believes that adult education is in danger of disappearing completely; that ESOL provision will be doubly hit by the cut in adult funding and the changes to delivery; that a national campaign to defend all of Adult Education is urgently needed to defend ESOL alongside the other areas of adult education.

Conference notes that members of already marginalised groups in society - LGBT people, BME and disabled people, women and older people especially - are being further marginalised by the impact of the cuts to adult education and ESOL by closing off first and second chance options, increasing social isolation, and undermining quality of life.

Conference resolves to:

  1. investigate the impact of these attacks on BME and disabled staff and students
  2. launch a national campaign to defend the whole of adult education, to highlight the gender impact of these cuts, and to look to the successes of Action for ESOL as part of building that campaign; and to call an organising conference as soon as possible.

FE21 Support for adult community learning - Luton and Bedfordshire ACE

Conference affirms its commitment and the importance of Adult Community Learning (ACL). Conference recognizes the cumulative impact on successive cuts in ACL and the difficulties adults face due to fewer opportunities to learn new skills or improve on current skills in English as a Second Language (ESOL), ICT and Family Learning. This inhibits the ability to overcome difficulties due to austerity, as well as other training to enable adults find employment and improve their lives.

Conference calls on the UCU to:

  • monitor ACL and report findings to ACL Branches, the FEC and NEC for urgent action
  • prepare an Action Plan to increase ACL and Report to next Conference
  • work with ACL providers, the government and local authorities to explore ways in which to market ACL
  • introduce an urgent strategy to extend union membership within ACL.

    CARRIED


FE22 Composite: defending adult education - Richmond Adult Community College, City of Islington College (Finsbury Park)

Conference notes

  1. the Continued attacks on Adult Education.
  2. the Coalition Government's funding cuts to Further & Adult Education amount to a 34% cut since 2010
  3. this year there is an additional 9% cut to the Adult Funding Rate
  4. most courses that are non-qualification courses are being closed
  5. here are no opportunities for adults, particularly those on benefits or in low paid jobs, to retrain or gain new skills.
  6. figures published by the National Office for Statistics indicate that:
    i 15% of 16-64yr olds in this country have no qualifications
    ii In 50 local council areas across the country this figure rises to 1 in 5 (20%)
  7. qualification courses, such as Access courses are being cut and curtailed. The situation has now been made worse by the introduction of fees.
  8. millions of people who are not working because of ill health or because of retirement are not able to attend courses that would improve and or maintain their physical and mental well-being.

Conference believes:

That it is a scandal that the Government are cutting funding to Further & Adult Education and making lecturers unemployed when there are more than a million adults who could be in college learning skills and receiving education to help them get a job.

Conference resolves:

  1. to launch a national campaign to protect and defend Adult Education.
  2. that UCU make Adult learning and its role in the Community a Central campaigning issue.
  3. that this campaign is part of a strategic lobbying and public campaigning that aims to influence all political parties and voters in the run up to the coming General Election.

    CARRIED


FE23 Access to HE/loans - West Midlands FE Sector Council

This conference rejects the government's cuts in funding for adult students and the pernicious use of 24 plus loans. In addition changes made by QAA to Access to HE course structures has resulted in colleges discontinuing their Access programmes and makes a mockery of the widening participation agenda.

These changes will impact hardest on the most disadvantaged and undermine the ability of the further education sector to offer a second chance to those who do not succeed at school.

Conference:

  1. instructs the NEC to investigate the impact these changes have made especially to adults wishing to start Access to HE programmes and to publicise the importance of Access courses particularly to working class women
  2. agrees to campaign against government's cuts in funding and the use of student loans.

    CARRIED AS AMENDED

FE23A.1 Disabled Members' Standing Committee

Add at end of second paragraph 'In particular disabled people who are more likely to have been denied equal access to primary and secondary education. Further education is often disabled people's first chance to secure an education.'

Add at end of point 1) 'and disabled people.'

CARRIED

Substantive motion

This conference rejects the government's cuts in funding for adult students and the pernicious use of 24 plus loans. In addition changes made by QAA to Access to HE course structures has resulted in colleges discontinuing their Access programmes and makes a mockery of the widening participation agenda.

These changes will impact hardest on the most disadvantaged and undermine the ability of the further education sector to offer a second chance to those who do not succeed at school. In particular disabled people who are more likely to have been denied equal access to primary and secondary education. Further education is often disabled people's first chance to secure an education.

Conference:

  1. instructs the NEC to investigate the impact these changes have made especially to adults wishing to start Access to HE programmes and to publicise the importance of Access courses particularly to working class women and disabled people
  2. agrees to campaign against government's cuts in funding and the use of student loans.

New paragraph, 14-16 year olds in FE

FE24 14-16 year olds in FE college - Oxford and Cherwell Valley College

Conference opposes the government's decision to allow colleges to recruit 14 to 16 year olds as full time students. This will be a departure from the current policy which only allows younger students to attend college but on a part time basis. Conference opposes this change because:

  • it will lead to further differentiation of pupils into academic and vocational routes at the age of 14
  • it will lead to further competition between schools and colleges with colleges under pressure to recruit students to attract the funding
  • colleges do not have the resources required to provide for younger students
  • teaching staff in FE are not trained for this type of teaching
  • it will change the character of FE colleges where students attend on a voluntary basis and are treated as adults.

    REMITTED

New paragraph, institutions and governance

FE25 (EP) FE governance - Chesterfield College

Conference notes:

  • the very significant and unaccountable powers held by college boards of governors
  • the potential for increased powers and scope for governing bodies through the development of academies and other stand-alone training providers in the area of post-16 education
  • that many governors have been in office for lengthy periods of time, in many cases in breach of the Nolan guidelines on standards in public life.

Conference resolves:

  • to continue to campaign for the full democratic and accountable governance of further education colleges with democratically elected and accountable boards of governors
  • to campaign to ensure in the interim that existing boards of governors abide by the limited guidelines on standards in public life.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

FE25A.1 Women Members' Standing Committee

Last paragraph, after 'accountable boards of governors', add, 'and for positive action to ensure that these reflect the communities they serve'.

CARRIED

FE25A.2 Black Members' Standing Committee

Add at end of motion a third paragraph as follows:

'To produce a list of governing bodies of all FE colleges and a breakdown of members in terms of ethnicity, gender, disability and LGBT, and any other relevant information. The list should also identify the chair of each governing body in terms of ethnicity, gender, disability and LGBT, and any other relevant information.'

CARRIED

FE25A.3LGBT Members' Standing Committee

Add to end of motion:

To campaign to ensure that all governors are trained in all aspects of equality, but specifically in LGBT issues.

CARRIED

Substantive motion

Conference notes:

  • the very significant and unaccountable powers held by college boards of governors
  • the potential for increased powers and scope for governing bodies through the development of academies and other stand-alone training providers in the area of post-16 education
  • that many governors have been in office for lengthy periods of time, in many cases in breach of the Nolan guidelines on standards in public life.

Conference resolves:

  • to continue to campaign for the full democratic and accountable governance of further education colleges with democratically elected and accountable boards of governors and for positive action to ensure that these reflect the communities they serve
  • to campaign to ensure in the interim that existing boards of governors abide by the limited guidelines on standards in public life
  • to produce a list of governing bodies of all FE colleges and a breakdown of members in terms of ethnicity, gender, disability and LGBT, and any other relevant information. The list should also identify the chair of each governing body in terms of ethnicity, gender, disability and LGBT, and any other relevant information
  • to campaign to ensure that all governors are trained in all aspects of equality, but specifically in LGBT issues.

FE26 Revocation of Incorporation - South East FE Sector Committee

This sector conference notes that the Incorporation of colleges in 1993 led to:

  1. colleges being taken from LEA's without any compensation for loss of land, buildings and investment;
  2. the misuse of public funds as the newly incorporated colleges set up unnecessary senior staffing structures with pay levels well beyond the pay of support and lecturing staff;
  3. the many scandals as colleges misused public money;
  4. the problems for national bargaining with the undermining of pay agreements and national conditions of service.

This sector conference therefore instructs its Officers and Officials to mount a campaign to draw to the attention of the public and particularly taxpayers the problems of Incorporation and to lobby for an end to Incorporation.

REMITTED


FE27 (EP) The University Technical College and other adventures - East Midlands FE Sector committee

Conference notes the increasing tendency of educational institutions to enter into partnerships with each other and with local businesses to set up alternative bodies (like University Technical Colleges, studio schools etc.) to run courses they already provide.

These bodies are often run in competition with the local FE college and sometimes using the same building and under the same management as the college itself.

This produces a situation where a college (often with the help of a local university) is in direct competition with itself!

Conference deplores this behaviour. It is the creation of a market for no practical reason, and adds nothing to the educational provision of the area - it is a waste of resources.

Conference calls on the NEC to work with local politicians with a view to discouraging institutions from engaging in this sort of ridiculous adventurism.

REMITTED

FE27A.1 Further Education Committee

Replace last paragraph with the following:

'Conference calls on UCU to support branches in campaigning on this issue, including working with trades councils and local politicians with a view to discouraging institutions from engaging in this sort of ridiculous adventurism.'


FE28 Management's failure to follow procedures in dealing with Student complaints - Westminster Kingsway College, Peter Street

Conference believes that

  1. local line managers have a duty to resolve any disputes arising between teachers and students informally in the first place- in a timely manner- by whenever possible bringing together the staff member and the complainant with a manager, who should attempt to act as a mediator
  2. management has a duty of care towards teachers and students alike, and that this must be adhered to. We are deeply concerned that procedures should be followed and consider risk assessments should be carried out on the effect on teachers' physical, emotional and mental health.

    REMITTED

Last updated: 7 October 2014