The lecturers’ strike to save A-levels at Cambridge Regional College has to be seen as the whole community’s struggle for comprehensive education.
The cuts will affect poorer students most by further limiting access to a broad and inclusive curriculum.
Lecturers from the new University and College Union and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers struck on Tuesday of last week. They are continuing the campaign with a work to rule in protest at the cuts and 12 full time job losses.
The strikers have received support from the NUT union branch at the local sixth form and the Unison union. Some university staff are beginning to get involved.
Cambridge Respect members spoke at a rally held at the lunchtime picket, and we are taking up the broader issues raised by the government’s attacks on public education.
The decision to end A-levels follows the closure of a thriving evening class provision at Long Road sixth form, and adult courses at the regional college now also look in jeopardy.
In many parts of England corporate sponsors have been actively encouraged to invest in education in return for influence over the curriculum.
Some schools and colleges have already opted for the short term benefits offered for opting out of local government control. But as we now see in the 16-19 sector, this leads to competition for resources and students and the narrowing of the curriculum.
FE providers are being pressured to offer courses geared towards employers’ needs, not students’ development.
Respect activists in Cambridge have set up a working group of trade unionists from across the sectors and we are widening our campaign to include students and parents.
Tom Woodcock is a sixth form teacher, NUT member and was a Respect election candidate. He writes in a personal capacity.
Lecturers at Stamford College in Lincolnshire walked out on Thursday of last week in a dispute over pay, with 40 lecturers taking part in the action.
The one day strike was the first in a series of planned action. Lecturers are due to strike again on Thursday 29 June.
Lecturers at Stoke-on-Trent College will vote on strikes after management announced it will press ahead with compulsory redundancies.
Lecturers in the UCU union, and clerical workers, technicians and cleaners in the Unison union at Northumberland College are taking action against the threat of up to 50 redundancies.
There are sites in Ashington, Kirkley Hall, Blyth, Amble and Berwick.