LECTURERS AT Hackney Community College struck on Tuesday of this week against 71 job losses and cuts that will savage educational provision in the east London borough.
“We face cuts to nearly one in ten posts,” says John Barber, secretary of the Natfhe union at the college.
“Hackney is one of the poorest boroughs in the country, and this college is the main provider of post-16 education.
“Management says it is looking for ‘efficiency reviews’, which means cuts, in every department and course area. If these cuts go through it will devastate provision.”
The cuts at Hackney college reveal everything that is wrong with the government’s policies of underfunding and market-driven competition in further education.
Ten years ago the college had seven or eight major sites around the borough.
Most of those have since been sold off for luxury flat developments. There is a new site in Shoreditch, but successive reorganisations have meant course cuts.
For example, the car mechanics course was moved (at great expense) to the new site, but was drastically slimmed down in the process. The engineering department has completely gone.
“The government says its priorities are basic skills, literacy and numeracy for adults, and provision for 16 to 19 year olds,” says John Barber. “But the funding increases are woefully inadequate. And for other areas funding is at a standstill.”
The proposed cuts at Hackney College would mean sharply reducing the curriculum so it offered little more than basic skills. They would also leave remaining staff facing a huge increase in workload.
Management is taking an aggressive line with lecturers, and with support staff in the Unison union, who are also balloting for action.
Send messages of support and donations to Maggie Carman (Natfhe) email@example.com or write c/o Hackney Community College, Falkirk St, London N1 6HQ.