March 2016 – UNISON gets seat on ‘national area review advisory group’ for post-16 education in England as new government guidance issues.
The government proposes to move the sector towards “fewer, often large, more resilient and efficient providers”. As part of the cost savings, the three main areas the review is focusing on are curriculum, estates and back office. UNISON is concerned about the threat this raises around job security and site closures or relocations.
The government guidance for Further Education paper – updated March 2016
What are UNISON’s concerns?
- That the key driver of the review is further cost savings rather than the aim to genuinely improve further education provision.
- The limited scope of the review does not include all educational providers in an area.
- The failure to include trade unions and learner representatives on the steering groups.
- The impact of a potential reduction in FE sites will have on learners’ ability to access courses.
- The impact on the job security and terms and conditions of staff, in particular for those considered to be ‘back office’ functions.
- The threat of privatisation.
What is UNISON’s position?
UNISON believes in the crucial role that further education plays in society and our local communities and supports greater investment in the sector rather than further cuts. We believe that access to further education should be for all, and we are concerned about the proposals to reduce the number of access points to education. As representatives of support staff within FE we are seeking commitments on job security and protection of pensions, pay and terms and conditions. It is clear that the reviews will have significant implications for staff and learners and we firmly believe that the interests of these groups needs to be properly consulted throughout the process.