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Ballot for strike action at Chichester College Group in jobs row

16 February 2021

UCU members at Chichester College Group are being asked to vote on whether to take industrial action, as part of a dispute of over job cuts.

The college wrote to staff to say it wants to get rid of to 10 full time equivalent jobs in maths and English, 40% of that department.

The college has also admitted it intends to make further cuts, including reducing in-person teaching by a third in maths and English and moving some lessons online permanently, even when the pandemic has passed.

The college is making the changes based on a trial conducted at Crawley College which included a permanent move to online teaching and reduced in-person teaching hours. But Crawley has now reverted to the previous model of teaching, as have other colleges that trialled it, such as Kingston. UCU has highlighted concerns raised by Ofsted that remote learning most disadvantages the least affluent. Last year the college pushed through cuts to its English language department and it has now had to hire additional English language staff to meet demand.

The college has seen an operating surplus of £5.7m in its most recently available accounts (2019) and received an estimated £300,000 in funding specifically for maths and English provision and an extra £1.3m in additional government funding over the past year.

Winning the ballot will give staff a mandate to take industrial action and fight any compulsory redundancies.

UCU regional official Michael Moran said: 'We are balloting UCU members at Chichester College Group to fight for staff in the English and maths departments whose livelihoods are being attacked, and to make the college stop plans to permanently cut in-person teaching. It is completely wrong to cut staff at the best of times, but especially during a pandemic, when we are facing an economic crisis and the worst jobs market in decades. I am urging every member to vote for industrial action and protect their colleagues.

'Plans to move future learning online show the college is trying to use the pandemic to push through dangerous cuts. Whilst online learning is best for students during Covid, ill thought through changes will have negative long-term consequences for student learning.

'The college is in good financial health, receiving well over £1m in additional government funding, with hundreds of thousands of pounds specifically set aside for maths and English provision, so there is no need to cut these jobs. It should learn the lessons of its failed cuts last year and keep staff now, rather than having to rehire again next year.

'These cuts would damage student learning. Chichester College Group must immediately halt them, and put the interests of students and staff first.'

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