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Further education sector conference 2021

FE sector conference 2021 motions: online, Wednesday 2 June 2021

Motions have been allocated to a section of the NEC's report to Congress (UCU1080). Paragraph headings refer to paragraphs within this report. (EP = existing policy.)

Section 3: Further education committee

Pay and workload

FE1  FE England pay - Further education committee

Conference approves the report on the FE England 2020/21 pay round and progress in the 2021/22 round as circulated in FE branch circular UCUBANFE/22.

Withdrawn

FE2  Pay - London regional FE sector committee

FESC notes:

  1. FE pay has been cut by 30% in the last decade
  2. government's promise to fund and 'revolutionise' FE
  3. government increase in military spending by £16.5bn
  4. AoC offer of 1% for 20/21
  5. the FE missing millions
  6. the role of all those working in the sector played during the public health crisis.

FESC believes:

  1. the government gave billions of public finances to private firms to develop track and trace systems that never materialised
  2. there is money for warfare but not education
  3. the AoC and local employers did not keep their promise to ring fence extra funding for pay.

FESC resolves UCU:

  1. to launch a pay campaign targeting the government, AoC and local employers
  2. to campaign round the figure of a 10% increase
  3. to ballot all branches across England and to fully resource and prioritise this campaign.

Carried as amended

FE2A.1 Nottingham College

after point 6, insert:

  1. the huge increase in workload this summer as our members carry out 'assessments' in place of regular examinations; the Scottish government have committed to paying a modest bonus for this work, but for the majority of staff in the UK, there will be no extra pay.

after point iii, insert:

  1. to campaign, alongside other teaching unions, for adequate bonus payments across the UK to staff replicating work that would usually be done by paid examiners.

Carried

Substantive motion

FESC notes:

  1. FE pay has been cut by 30% in the last decade
  2. government's promise to fund and 'revolutionise' FE
  3. government increase in military spending by £16.5bn
  4. AoC offer of 1% for 20/21
  5. the FE missing millions
  6. the role of all those working in the sector played during the public health crisis
  7. the huge increase in workload this summer as our members carry out 'assessments' in place of regular examinations; the Scottish government have committed to paying a modest bonus for this work, but for the majority of staff in the UK, there will be no extra pay.

FESC believes:

  1. the government gave billions of public finances to private firms to develop track and trace systems that never materialised
  2. there is money for warfare but not education
  3. the AoC and local employers did not keep their promise to ring fence extra funding for pay.

FESC resolves UCU:

  1. to launch a pay campaign targeting the government, AoC and local employers
  2. to campaign round the figure of a 10% increase
  3. to ballot all branches across England and to fully resource and prioritise this campaign
  4. to campaign, alongside other teaching unions, for adequate bonus payments across the UK to staff replicating work that would usually be done by paid examiners.

FE3  Workload and changes in assessment models - Yorkshire and Humberside regional committee

Conference notes that:

  1. we are in a second year of teacher assessed grades for GCSE, A level and vocational qualifications
  2. many, including in UCU, welcome a move away from high-stakes external exams
  3. teachers in FE have seen an increase in teaching hours together with reduced contact time per group, leading to a situation where (for example) a full time GCSE maths or English tutor can be teaching 200 students per academic year
  4. additional marking and standardisation would be the final straw for many whose workloads are already at unsustainable levels.

We call on UCU to make it policy that no permanent change which increases the teacher assessed component of qualifications should be introduced unless teachers have a reduction in teaching hours.

Carried

FE4  Admin and workload - Croydon College

Conference notes that years of managerialism have expanded the admin duties of lecturers, administrators and support workers. It is eating in to the time teachers and support workers need to prepare for lessons, it is creating stress and anxiety, and data bullying is becoming a feature in our workplaces.

Conference resolves:

  1. to launch a campaign to safeguard teaching and support preparation and assessment hours to be safeguarded and expanded
  2. to develop guidelines for admin and support staff to identify excessive data recording and admin workload
  3. to support action where employers use data to undermine staff confidence and intimidate staff.

Carried  as amended

FE4A.1 South East regional FE committee

Add 'teaching in Further Education has been undermined and' after 'notes that' in line one.

Carried

FE5  For a national campaign on workload and defending professional autonomy - Capital City College Group CANDI Camden Road

Notes:

  1. lecturer workload has risen dramatically and has increased since remote teaching
  2. managements' continued attempts to control every aspects of our working lives.

Believes that:

  1. three areas are responsible for the increase in workload; i) Cuts in guided learning hours; ii) Attendance chasing and iii) increase in admin duties as colleges cut support staff
  2. through an increase in monitoring, open classroom observation polices and micro management of lecturers' time, management have eroded our professional autonomy.

Resolves:

  1. UCU to launch a national workload/defending professional autonomy campaign around the slogan 'Take back control of our working lives' aimed at the AoC
  2. to reach agreement with the AoC around issues such as; the use of guided learning hours and resourcing the recruitment of administrative staff to support lectures in their departments.

Carried

L5  FE pay - Croydon College

Conference notes:

  1. consultative ballot on pay: 81% vote for action
  2. UCU FE's national pay + strategy.

Believes that:

  1. pay will continue to be a central issue in FE
  2. whilst we have had some success with the national + campaign we need to rethink how we campaign over pay and conditions
  3. if we are to be able to beat the union thresholds, we need a clear focus on the issues that we are asking members to vote on
  4. there is no competition between pay or workload. We can have a national campaign on both - simultaneously.

Resolves the FEC:

  1. organise a campaign on pay and workload leading to a national IA ballot
  2. in the event of a national ballot taking place there can be no opting out by branches of a national ballot.

Future of FE/ACE/prison education

FE6  ALPs grades and grade inflation are damaging academic standards - The Manchester College

Conference notes:

  1. predicted grade algorithm and grade inflation over the Covid crisis have been used to manufacture inconsistent ALPs grades in FE colleges
  2. for some students the ALPs grades are not a reflection of current academic ability
  3. progression routes have been distorted by grade inflation and undermine integrity of qualifications and put undue pressure on lecturers
  4. the narrative, 'no student should be disadvantaged by Covid' is a weak argument for progressing students to higher level study without foundation knowledge
  5. urgent investment is needed to manage the achievement gap and protect students from financial consequences of progressing above ability level.

FE sector conference instructs UCU to:

  1. campaign to protect teaching staff harbouring unrealistic group targets and to maintain integrity of qualifications and professional standards of education
  2. lobby the AoC and UK governments to identify grade inflation as an issue and include ALPs benchmarking in the Safeguarding Policy Agenda.

Lost

FE7  FE white paper - London regional FE sector committee

FESC notes:

  1. DFE FE white paper
  2. no real terms increase in funding for further and adult education.

FESC believes that:

  1. the government strategy for social and economic recovery in a post-Coronavirus world must place further and adult education at its centre;
  2. the DFE FE White Paper is a step backwards for the sector
  3. its emphasis on skills training above and beyond everything else narrows the sector educational role to narrow skills training
  4. this model will not meet the needs of our communities; neither in creating meaningful jobs opportunities nor educationally.

FESC resolves UCU to:

  1. campaign against the FE white paper and put forward a collectivist approach based on a plan led model
  2. promote the alternative vision for FE as outlined in the 'reconstruction of FE in a post-Coronavirus world' discussion paper.

Carried

FE8  Asset stripping in FE - West Midlands regional FE sector committee

FESC notes:

The West Midlands region is experiencing multiple incidences of asset stripping across numerous college sites. Whole and part sites continue to be sold off for nominal gain to resolve deficits. Sell-off is happening with little or no consultation with local communities or regard for local educational needs. Since 2002 the West Midlands has lost almost 50 percent of FE provision. Government has acknowledged the vital role FE has to play in the economic recovery of the country. FE provision should be expanding, not shrinking.

FESC believes:

Due regard is not given to equality legislation and impact assessments are inadequate or disregarded. Continuous government under-funding over the last decade has led to the position where college survival is dependent on asset sell-offs.

FESC resolves:

UCU should scrutinise the extent of asset stripping in the last decade and the impact this has had on our rural and urban communities.

Carried

FE9  Build Back Better - Further education committee

FESC notes the Build Back Better campaign which seeks to ensure society's response to the pandemic is to protect public services, tackle inequality and provide quality jobs whilst addressing the climate crisis.

FESC notes the bargaining priority areas to tackle the race & gender pay gaps; insecure work and unmanageable workloads, as well policy on democratic governance and ending outsourcing and the Green New Deal bargaining guidance to branches.

FESC believes that the pandemic has left branches struggling to address these priority areas whilst ensuring that their workplace is a safe environment to work. As such there is a need for bargaining support to be streamlined to help branches achieve maximum impact in all these areas with the resources they have.

FESC therefore instructs FEC to draw up a model claim and accompanying guidance for branches which includes the principles of the Build Back Better campaign and UCU's bargaining priorities.

Carried

FE10  Build Back Better - Novus prison education

Conference notes that during the pandemic prison educators have had to adapt their ways of working at short notice to carry on supporting students. Lessons learned from this need to shape how future blended learning will look, ensuring that this works for both students and our members.

This conference believes we must prioritise the following areas when discussing future provision:

  1. job security and maintaining terms and conditions
  2. health, safety and wellbeing of staff
  3. government investment in tech and digital infrastructure
  4. training and professional development of staff
  5. intellectual property rights.

This conference resolves to:

  1. ask NEC to commission research into blended learning in a custodial setting
  2. mandate negotiators to focus on pursuing with the employers and commissioner a solution that addresses the areas listed above.

Carried

FE11  Adult education - Further education committee

FESC notes: 

The education select committee report on lifelongl earning

  1. that there has been a decline in participation in community learning by 32% between 2008-2009 and 2018-2019 the lowest for 23 years
  2. nine million working-age adults in England have low literacy or numeracy skills, or both, and six million adults are not qualified to level 2 (equivalent to GCSE level)
  3. support the Select Committee report and its calls for a community learning centre in every town in the country and national strategy for adult education and for childcare, ESOL and SEND Adult Education, IAG. 

FESC calls on FEC:

  1. invite the select committee to work with FESC by organising a parliamentary committee meeting
  2. discuss the reconstruction of further and adult education paper https://fundthefuture.org.uk/files/2020/07/ucu_reconstructing-fe.pdf and the adult community education manifesto as part of the wider discussions.

Carried

FE12  Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Automated Decision Making (ADM) - Further education committee

FESC notes:

  1. the impact of the pandemic on the uptake of technology in the sector
  2. the Automatic University report
  3. the TUC working group on AI which produced the Technology Managing People report and is due to publish a legal report and a manifesto. 
  4. data protection impact assessments should be carried out by employers when implementing new systems using workers' personal data, but unions are not consulted about them.

FESC believes:

  1. AI and ADM can be useful in workplaces but must be used in a way that doesn't infringe on rights workers' or discriminate against individuals. 

FESC resolves to:

  1. produce bargaining guidance for branches on how to approach the issue of new technology with their employers using current legislation, and provide training to support this
  2. seek to draw up a joint ethical AI policy with the AoC which colleges can implement with local branches to protect workers.

Carried

FE13  FE trainers/assessors contract status no longer to be 'business support' - Bridgwater and Taunton College

Conference notes:

  1. the successful learning delivery by trainer-assessors, specialist trainers, and other colleagues in FE
  2. these colleagues frequently earn the same or more than lecturers in the same institutions
  3. these colleagues contribute significantly to learning in FE
  4. some colleges have resolved differentials and pay and conditions have been rationalised and merged.

Conference resolves that:

  1. UCU negotiate nationally for recognition of all colleagues delivering learning in FE and inclusion in the 'lecturer family' bargaining unit
  2. UCU branches consider negotiating such recognition at local level
  3. such contracts no longer be deemed 'support' or 'business support'
  4. every effort be made to achieve parity between delivery of learning (especially to apprentices in the workplace and at the college or other provider base) and delivery of full-time learning
  5. multiple and diverse salary scales be rationalised to demonstrate more obvious parity of status for all colleagues delivering learning in FE colleges.

Carried

Covid and health and safety

FE14  Covid, lockdown and work/life balance - City College Oxford (Activate Learning)

Conference notes the excessive workloads for staff in FE during the pandemic and lockdown:

  1. extra time spent on marking, adapting teaching material and having to get to grips with new technology
  2. staff were asked to undertake many administrative roles and the bureaucratic parts of the work actually increased
  3. homes had to be turned into offices and home life disrupted
  4. work/life balance lost meaning for many staff.

There is a real danger that these features may become the new normal as students return to site and management will seek to take advantage of the 'disaster' status of Covid.

Nationally with AOC and locally with management UCU must seek to achieve new agreements on work/life balance which mean FE staff work to contracted hours as a maximum rather that a nominal figure that has no meaning.

Carried

FE15  Casualisation, FE and Covid - Anti-casualisation committee

Covid has resulted in the fragmentation of the work life of members in FE and given employers the opportunity to employ staff on a 'just in time' philosophy. Remote working disguises the factors that already affect casual staff whilst the ACC has found it difficult to encourage FE members to attend the annual conference and stand for election for committee.

This conference calls on: 

  1. all branches to elect an anti-casualisation representative and seek paid facility time for them.
  2. regional committees to use their networks to identify and encourage members from FE/ACE/prisons to stand for the ACC and attend UCU regional and national events. 
  3. the national union to: 
  1. highlight to members in FE/ACE/prisons the work of the ACC and encourage involvement in anti-casualisation events
  2. reconsider how anti-casualisation events and campaigns are advertised in order to reach those members, and potential members, who work in hard-to-reach areas.

Carried

FE16  Full funding for Covid-19 catch-up education and support - Further education committee

FESC notes:

  1. the impact of the Covid pandemic will be ongoing and systemic across all sectors of society. Yet again, UCU members will be expected to pick up the pieces
  2. filling the gaps left by long periods without education and the mental health crisis that will unfold will need specialist help and skills
  3. the government cannot be allowed to get away with expecting staff in these sectors to paper over society's cracks when they are not adequately paid and the funding for provision is not adequate.

FESC resolves:

  1. to revise the Fund the Future campaign to secure a real funding increase from government to fund 'catch up' education in the FE sector
  2. to lobby government to provide emergency funding for colleges to cover all aspects of support not just educational, including mental health support and fully funded tutorial support.

Carried

FE17  Health and safety programme of mobilisation - West Midlands FE sector regional committee

FESC notes:

Covid and the global pandemic has created uncertainty, dangerous conditions for all. The government continues to treat FE in the same way as schools which have a different population make up, primarily having more adults which currently have a greater risk of being affected by Covid. UCU needs further mobilisation around Health and Safety to keep members safe.

FESC resolves to:

  1. run an organisational programme to recruit and train health and safety officers to ensure they are in every branch
  2. develop the role of a regional committee health and safety officer in every region
  3. encourage and develop regional health and safety networks to share ideas, expertise and best practice
  4. for UCU to develop stronger working links with the HSE/directors of public health to support safe working conditions
  5. report the worst offenders flouting guidance and breaking the law to the HSE/appropriate organisation.

Carried

FE18  Well-being and outsourcing - Croydon College

Conference notes the increase in outsourcing of mental health support provision for students and the lack of on-site counselling in many colleges. We further note that Covid -19 has increased the need for this support and will continue to have an impact on mental health wellbeing in to the future. The pressure on lecturers to take on counselling responsibilities without support is unacceptable and potentially dangerous to both students and staff.

Conference resolves to launch a campaign to ensure that every college has appropriately trained and fully funded in-house counselling services to meet the needs of students as a matter of urgency.

Carried

FE19  Safe working in FE - LGBT+ members standing committee

Conference notes:

  1. FE colleges have been called to go back to face-to-face working whilst many other workers remain at home
  2. working from home is in some cases safer but also poses some issues around privacy and home-life
  3. FE is treated as a key working environment whilst undervalued and underfunded
  4. safety in prison education can be precarious.

Conference believes:

  1. FE should be more valued and better funded
  2. LGBT+ staff and students in FE should be supported by implementation of strong supportive and inclusive policies
  3. conditions across the FE sector should be supportive of health and well-being.

Conference resolves to:

  1. campaign for a well-resourced, safe FE sector
  2. develop toolkit for branches to review FE LGBT+ policies and data collection
  3. Lobby for routine inclusion of LGBT+ people and issues across FE including data collection, curriculum, policies, training, and provision of facilities.

Carried

Equality

FE20  Online working and accessibility for disabled members - Disabled members standing committee

During this pandemic, conditions for disabled members have deteriorated significantly. For many members the uncertainty of providing online lessons and resources without regard for accessibility issues have added to their stress. A recent UCU survey identified that the increased workloads and lack of reasonable adjustments has affected the mental health of disabled members. The alternative, of attending work, leads members to feel unsafe. For example, the survey identified prison staff as part of this cohort, some of whom will be disabled members.

We call on UCU to identify the prevalence of these factors for disabled members and ensure that FE institutions do not use the cover of coronavirus to discriminate against disabled members.

Carried

FE21  Improving organisation for disability equality in FE - Disabled members standing committee

Conference notes:

  1. disabled workers are twice as likely to be made redundant as non-disabled workers
  2. one in four disabled workers face redundancy because of covid crisis
  3. many disabled FE workers face unreasonable delay in obtaining adjustments and often face employer hostility when taking action on this.

Conference believes that:

  1. every branch needs to support disabled workers to improve this situation and all reps should have training on ableism and its impacts on members
  2. the AOC should produce a charter to support disabled workers including:
    1. adopting TUC call for implementation of adjustments within 3 months
    2. clear, explicit and enforced policies against disability discrimination
    3. training for all managers re ableism.

Conference instructs FEC /NEC:

  1. to pursue this anti disability discrimination charter, and union training, bargaining and organising agenda, without delay
  2. to provide better legal support to disabled workers facing discrimination and redundancy.

Carried

FE22  Educating our FE students about public sexual harassment - Women members standing committee 

The majority of schoolchildren in the UK are not taught about street harassment, despite the fact that 2 in 3 girls will be subject to this violence (Plan UK, 2016). The recent murder of Sarah Everard, and others yet to be identified, exemplifies the danger that women face within the public space.

Conference supports the call for greater resources within FE to educate students and staff about the issues around public sexual harassment and gender-based violence.

Conference calls upon FEC to:

  1. advocate for curriculum to support education around public sexual harassment and gender-based violence within FE, as well as funding for resources
  2. work with student unions, lecturers and support workers to help promote increased awareness of public sexual harassment and gender-based violence and what that entails.

Carried  as amended

FE22A.1 LGBT+ members standing committee

Insert new paragraph 2:

Conference recognises reports of attacks on trans women in public spaces have increased. The FE curriculum does not fully reflect trans lives and trans inclusive policies are mostly either non-existent or implemented poorly across FE. FEC action on sexual harassment and gender based violence should be inclusive of all women.

Carried

Substantive motion

The majority of schoolchildren in the UK are not taught about street harassment, despite the fact that 2 in 3 girls will be subject to this violence (Plan UK, 2016). The recent murder of Sarah Everard, and others yet to be identified, exemplifies the danger that women face within the public space.

Conference recognises reports of attacks on trans women in public spaces have increased. The FE curriculum does not fully reflect trans lives and trans inclusive policies are mostly either non-existent or implemented poorly across FE. FEC action on sexual harassment and gender based violence should be inclusive of all women.

Conference supports the call for greater resources within FE to educate students and staff about the issues around public sexual harassment and gender-based violence.

Conference calls upon FEC to:

  1. advocate for curriculum to support education around public sexual harassment and gender-based violence within FE, as well as funding for resources
  2. work with student unions, lecturers and support workers to help promote increased awareness of public sexual harassment and gender-based violence and what that entails.

FE23  Facility time and equal representation for women in FE branches - Women members standing committee

There is an under-representation of women, especially women from marginalised groups, in trade union leadership and structures. They continue to be under-represented in UCU FE branch committees and urgent intervention is needed to ensure equitable representation.

Conference instructs FE branches to adopt the following principles to address this under-representation and ensure equitable facilities time:

  1. all women in FE should be actively encouraged to take on branch committee roles
  2. they are allocated equitable facilities time. Where facility time is inadequate, the branch should endeavour to negotiate an increase in facility time
  3. people holding multiple committee positions in FE should make some positions available so women can stand for election as representatives
  4. women, especially those from marginalised groups in FE, should be given priority as delegates for Congress
  5. annual audit of FE branch committees by WMSC and other equalities groups to monitor compliance. 

Carried

FE24  Black Lives Matter - Further education committee

FESC notes: 

  1. the supportive Black Lives Matter statements from principals across the country 
  2. that FE has some of the most diverse classrooms 
  3. Black Lives Matter Movement has exposed systemic racism

Believes:

  1. that the FE curriculum needs to reflect diversity and anti-racism fully 
  2. FE teaching workforce also needs to be able to recruit, retain and allow progression for black lecturers 
  3. anti-racist colleges need to be at the heart of our society.

FESC resolves:

to call on principals to meet with UCU to revise the FE curricula which embraces all black history with inclusion of colonial history

to call a 'open decolonisation' of FE conference, which seeks to work with principals and UCU members.

Carried

FE25  Composite: Network for black members in prison education - Novus prison education, Black members standing committee

This conference notes:

  1. there is a lack of diversity within our prison education system
  2. for a long time the voices of black members have been silenced through fear, intimidation and bullying throughout society but especially so within the prison system. The experience of black workers in the sector is exacerbated by the fact that the prison education workforce does not reflect the learners or the wider community
  3. the UCU response to the education select committee inquiry which made recommendations as to how a revised and decolonised curriculum could go towards addressing the differential outcomes experienced by black and other ethnic minority groups in prison populations.

Conference believes that black workers in prison education are entitled to a work environment that is free from bullying and discrimination.

This conference resolves to:

  1. build support networks for black members in prison education which will provide a safe space for members to express their thoughts and feelings, raising issues of systemic racism within prison education. The network will support members to engage in the democratic process of UCU and link to the BMSC. The network will also work with branches to hold prison education providers to account and embed anti-racist practice.
  2. establish clear links for black prison educators to access regional self-organised black networks
  3. support the work of the UCU Black Members' Standing Committee in liaising with black prison educators.

Carried

FE26  Exam process: equality issues for black, Asian and minority ethnic students - Yorkshire and Humberside Regional Committee

Covid-19 has exposed a number of significant inequalities in the education system for students from a black, Asian and minority ethnic heritage. Evidence shows Black students are more likely to be subjected to teacher bias, both unconscious and conscious due to the imposition of tutor assessment grades.

Following last year's exam fiasco, there are concerns that teacher assessment grades could severely impact on black students' ability to secure the university place of their choice again this year.

We call on UCU to lobby the government and the AoC to support the call for all teaching and assessing staff to be trained in fair methods of assessment including:

  1. unconscious bias training
  2. anonymous marking carried out by internal and external assessors/markers
  3. ongoing training for staff to support students in accessing career advice and their choice of HE destination.

Carried

FE27  Intersectional LGBT+ in FE - LGBT+ members standing committee

Conference notes:

  1. many LGBT+ people are drawn to FE for various reasons including bullying and isolation
  2. FE is a diverse environment.

Conference believes:

  1. a person who is LGBT+ can experience multiple discriminations in employment practices, curriculum, team dynamics, curriculum, and classroom relationships. Assumptions are made about one's LGBT+ status based on other protected characteristics e.g., disability, race, and gender
  2. as FE is diverse there are people from multiple backgrounds within the learning environment. These can be people with a wide range of disabilities, migrant status, race, gender, and age.

Conference resolves to:

  1. make available resources that challenge assumptions and raise the profile of LGBT+ intersectionality in the context of the curriculum and learning environment within FE
  2. campaign to raise awareness of the challenges and joys experienced by LGBT+ with intersectional characteristics
  3. campaign for LGBT+ inclusion in FE curriculum.

Carried

Last updated: 15 June 2021