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Kent College principal provokes 'no confidence' vote

4 July 2006 | last updated: 15 December 2015

Approximately half of all staff at a Kent College have signed a statement of 'no confidence' in their principal. A total of 244 UCU and UNISON members at South Kent College signed the statement of 'no confidence' in college principal, Dr Tom Johnson.

The drastic measure comes after a series of staff restructurings at the college.

First, there was a shake-up of centre managers which saw the loss of approximately 20 posts. The unions accepted the need for a restructuring but say this process was imposed far too soon after a previous one, and has resulted in the loss of many of the college's most experienced, respected and talented staff members.

Next, a restructuring at programme manager level was announced. Staff were told this would take place in plenty of time to enable them to apply for new posts starting in September. However, until this week it had still not taken place leaving many in limbo not knowing if they have a job next term. In a U-turn on Monday (July 3) the college announced new posts would be created to replace programme manager jobs.

Finally, there was a cull of administrative staff that saw 50 full-time support posts go. The unions say the new administrative structure will not provide the support which teaching staff need to do their job effectively.

Unions say the restructurings have increased workloads for staff and led to many being held accountable for areas far outside their remit. Also, they say there has been no meaningful consultation and highlight that even though finance has been cited as the driving force behind the changes, the college is considering spending millions redeveloping its Folkestone site.

Pat Gorman, UCU branch secretary at South Kent College, said:

'The teaching and support staff at South Kent College do no want to engage in industrial action; there is no wish to inconvenience students in any way. Their issues are, in the main, with the actions and attitudes of one man who is in grave danger of destroying South Kent College.

'Marvellous new buildings are no use if there is not the experienced dedicated staff to teach in them. Dr Johnson's actions over the last few months have cost this college a great many highly experienced teachers and support staff.

'Effective management from our principal would have avoided a great deal of disruption and ill feeling during the restructurings yet there was no real leadership in evidence.'

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