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Maxine Looby (Oldham College)

Election address

Vote Maxine Looby for UK-Elected FE - standing for access for all and employee wellbeing

I am seeking re-election to the UCU National Executive Committee because as Branch Secretary at Oldham College, I have first-hand personal and professional experience of how institutional inequalities affect progression and in turn marginalise individuals. I am the chair of the North-West regional committee and an active member of the Black Members' Standing Committee (BMSC).

In my branch, I challenge injustice on a daily basis and represent members on a range of issues and concerns at disciplinary hearings, sickness reviews, dismissal appeals and redundancy meetings. During lockdown, I worked alongside fellow BMSC members to aid the union in providing guidance on individual risk assessments for our black members, which was very well received.

The challenges in FE are even greater than before, due to Covid-19.  Members have been under additional pressure to achieve pre-Covid targets, whilst balancing this against the backdrop of a global pandemic. Managing our time, workload, mental health and wellbeing has become even more difficult.

Professional Autonomy

The pandemic has proven that FE staff are more than capable of exercising professional autonomy and judgement to enable learning to continue. Not only have members had to teach from home, they have also had to plan and develop new ways of teaching and blended learning strategies and tools, at the same time as managing competing factors including childcare and caring responsibilities to enable our students to achieve. 

If institutions are serious about supporting the mental health and wellbeing of staff, we need to see a commitment from our employers to revise existing policies and procedures to truly match the new way of working.

If elected, I will campaign for UCU to support reps and members to open up the conversation regarding existing policies and procedures to fit the way we now have to work.

Spotlight on Inequalities

We know that the pandemic has highlighted and deepened the pre-existing inequalities in our society:

  • Disabled members and those with childcare and caring responsibilities have had to fight for the support and reasonable adjustments that should be in place as standard.
  • Mental health and wellbeing issues have been exacerbated by the pandemic and work-related stress is through the roof.
  • Many of our institutions pledged to re-visit/revise curriculum and recruitment in light of the brutal killing of George Floyd.  How many of those FE institutions have kept their word?


Last updated: 1 September 2021