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Press Release: Stroud Against the Cuts support lecturers on strike at Stroud College

Tuesday, 10 November 2015 13:55
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Press Release, Stroud Against the Cuts, 10/11/2015

Stroud Against the Cuts support lecturers on strike at Stroud College

Members of Stroud Against the Cuts visited the picket line at Stroud College today to show solidarity with members of the University and College Union (UCU) who are taking strike action over pay cuts and attacks on further education (FE). Lecturers have suffered a real terms pay cut of over 17% in recent years – with take home pay declining in value in each of the last six years. Trade unionists and their supporters say the strike is not just about pay – but about defending the quality of further education against cuts.

Robin Lewis, Chair of Stroud College UCU branch said: “We were asking the Association of Colleges for a £1 per hour rise which they’ve declined and actually the offer is a pay freeze. Clearly that’s quite derisory and caused a lot of anger within the sector, so we’ve come out on strike against that. In real terms our pay has dropped year on year – we get 1% sometimes, sometimes we get nothing and that’s been going on for at least four or five years now. Since 2008 we’ve had an 18-19% pay cut in real terms, so lecturers are starting to feel that enough is enough. It’s also in general about cuts in the FE sector. We have had some really drastic cuts and the whole sector is struggling now. Many of our class sizes have increased enormously – students are getting a much worse deal now from colleges because of that. Lecturers are more and more under pressure, the workload has increased dramatically – so the quality of provision is now starting to be affected by those cuts”

James Beecher, Chair of Stroud Against the Cuts said: “The government’s assault on public services includes a range of attacks on Further Education – and we must stand up to defend it. Stroud Against the Cuts supports Further Education workers and supports the strike. The cuts under the coalition have already caused redundancies – including here in Stroud. Class sizes are growing, courses are being cut and education is being undermined. Now the government is planning a further funding cut of 25% - potentially threatening nearly half of England’s sixth-form colleges and one in three further education colleges with closure.”

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'The current cuts to adult education budgets are a devastating blow to colleges and will change the face of further education in many parts of the country. Funding for adult skills has already fallen 35% since 2009, and the latest reductions could be the final nail in the coffin for some courses.  Not everyone needs or wants to study an apprenticeship, but colleges are being forced to prioritise apprenticeships over other kinds of learning. This will shut the door on many learners who use adult education as a springboard for improving their skills. On top of the reduction in budgets, the focus on rationalisation and efficiency through area reviews can only lead to a narrower curriculum and risks leaving many students high and dry if their aspirations don't match local economic priorities. Colleges need stable investment to continue to help people of all backgrounds fulfil their potential'

Notes for editors:

For more information see the UCU’s page on the dispute and strike.

Stroud Against the Cuts produced a video from the picket, from which Robin Lewis’ quote is taken.

On government funding cuts and potential closures see the UCU press release or “Education budget cuts could see closure of four in ten sixth form and further-education colleges”.

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 November 2015 13:59
 

Student Assembly Against Austerity: National Convention

Friday, 20 February 2015 19:25
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"Austerity and all the hardship it causes has been sweeping this country since the Coalition Government came to power in 2010. Now we’re just months away from another General Election and the only ‘good’ that’s come from these unnecessary cuts is the movements that have come together to fight them and provide a platform for the ‘There is an alternative’ message. At the forefront of this movement has been The People’s Assembly Against Austerity, an initiative bringing together anti-austerity voices from across society, from trade unions and parties like the Green Party to grass roots campaigning groups."

 

So writes Sahaya James - one of the national organisers for the Student Assembly Against Austerity (SAAA), Co-Convener of South West Young Greens and a supporter of Stroud Against the Cuts. Please read the below article by her on the recent National Convention of the SAAA. If you are interested in local student activism please contact SATC via This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or Sahaya directly via This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

"The student wing of the People’s Assembly, aptly named the Student Assembly Against Austerity (SAAA), was born in August 2013 and first assembled at a meeting in November of that year. Since then they have led the successful campaign against the sell-off of the student loan book and co-organised the 10,000 strong free education march on November 19th. In September last year they also launched the Student Manifesto 2015: fourteen democratically selected demands from the student movement made to politicians and political parties in the run-up to the General Election in May.

 

On Saturday 31st of January dozens of student activists from 22 campuses gathered at SOAS for the Student Assembly Against Austerity’s National Convention to decide and discuss an action plan for the student movement in the lead up to the General Election.

 

The Convention’s packed agenda was centred around some of the Student Manifesto’s key demands and opened with an inspiring panel entitled ‘No more austerity!’, which heard from a range of political figures such as Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Diane Abbot MP and activists such as Stand Up to Racism’s Sabby Dhalu, SUArts President Shelly Asquith and Christy McMorrow, who has been leading a campaign for free education at Sheffield Uni.

 

Following on from this the day was filled with a series of interactive workshops on:

  • ·         Fighting austerity on campus: for affordable housing & stopping course closures
  • ·         Hardest hit: fighting cuts, bigotry and inequality
  • ·         No racist scapegoating
  • ·         We have a right to resist - #CopsOffCampus
  • ·         FE students and the fightback – bring back EMA and defend youth services
  • ·         For an ethical education – fossil free, no to war

 

The day ended with a closing session on ‘Students and the General Election’ that gave everyone an opportunity to feedback from the workshops they had attended, vote on the Student Assembly’s Action Plan for the coming months and hear from a panel of incredible speakers, like comedian and activist Francesca Martinez, Stop the War Coalition’s Lindsey German, Green Party Deputy Leader Shahrar Ali, the People’s Assembly’s Sam Fairbairn, NUS National Executive Aaron Kiely and Jonas from the Mexican student movement, who gave an emotional account of how the Mexican state ‘disappeared’ 43 students.

 

A recurring theme for many of the speakers was the ways in which racism and xenophobia had entered mainstream politics throughout Europe along with the austerity policies so many governments have adopted. With the rise of UKIP in this country, the importance of the upcoming Stand up to Racism demo on March 21st was emphasised repeatedly.

 

The Convention was a massive success with the majority of attendees being new activists, many of whom were very excited to take what they had learned back to their campuses, with dozens signing up to hold their own Student Question Time event with the support of the SAAA."

 

Sahaya James is one of the national organisers for the Student Assembly Against Austerity, Co-Convener of South West Young Greens and a supporter of Stroud Against the Cuts. If you are interested in local student activism please contact SATC via This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or Sahaya directly via This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

 

 

Stand Up For Education! Support the Teachers' Strike

Thursday, 20 March 2014 18:07
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Stroud Against the Cuts supports Teachers in taking Strike action on March 26th

The National Union of Teachers says: "Teachers are taking strike action to protect our
pay, pensions and conditions. Michael Gove’s changes will affect us, but they will also affect the
standards of education for your children. Michael Gove could have avoided this strike if he
had been willing to compromise or negotiate seriously with teachers."

 

Watch a short video on the reasons for the strike, or read on for more detail below. The NUT are encouraging people to write to their local MP - you can use a template letter and form on their website if you find that easier.

 

 

Teachers are striking for three reasons: workload and bureaucracy, the introduction of performance related pay, and unfair changes to pensions. The below text is from the NUT's leaflet on the strike:

 

"Workload:
• Teachers’ levels of workload are intolerable – the Government’s own survey, published last month,
shows that primary school teachers work nearly 60 hours a week and secondary school teachers
work nearly 56 hours a week.

• Government policies mean that far too much time is spent on bureaucratic box-ticking that
stops teachers focusing on teaching.

• Many teachers are leaving the profession due to workload pressures. This is bad for children and
bad for education.


Pay:
• The Government’s performance related pay is creating bureaucracy as well. It is moving ahead
despite the international evidence that PRP in teaching doesn’t work. This will affect children
too as teachers focus on the matters that affect their pay.
• Destroying the national pay framework means that in every school head teachers and
governors have to worry about developing a pay system instead of focusing on teaching and
learning.


Pensions
• Teachers don’t believe that they can work to 68 or even later for a full pension – and they don’t
believe it is educationally desirable either.
• The NUT recognises that other workers are having their pensions squeezed. We believe that
this is wrong too – everyone should be entitled to a decent standard of living in retirement.

 

• Ensure every classroom has a qualified teacher.
• Allow councils to open new schools where needed.
• Make sure changes to the curriculum and exams are positive and planned.
• Ensure there are enough teachers – stop picking fights with the ones we’ve got.
• Fund our schools properly and get them working together.

Visit www.teachers.org.uk/parents to register your support, email your MP and get campaign updates"

For more information see: http://www.teachers.org.uk/

Follow the hashtags #standupforedu and #M26 below for more information and photos from events on the day:

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 March 2014 19:49
 

Gove’s Cunning Plan Backfires

Wednesday, 15 January 2014 22:37
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by Stroud Against The Cuts member Chris Moore

 

"Education Minister Michael Gove recently tried to justify the role of the British military command in the First World War slaughter, accusing ‘left wing academics’ of using Blackadder to distort the teaching of the First World War. So on reflection he may regret his decision to visit Marling School whose former pupil Tim McInnerny, played the part of one of the characters, Captain Darling. 

 

 

 

 

 

Hundreds of current Stroud students, mainly from Marling and High School, were waiting for one of the most despised members of the coalition cabinet. Gormless Gove was chased for over an hour round Marling, a grammar school that has recently benefitted from a £3.7 million refurbishment. ‘Education shouldn’t be elitist, it should be for everyone, that’s why I’m protesting:’ said Janneke Bax-Pratt. Gove was left cowering in a classroom along with Stroud Tory MP Michael Carmichael, while students circled the building chanting ‘Gove out.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

A handful of teachers tried to hold back students from getting too close to Gove, but were brushed aside by a wave of young people determined to make their anger heard. Other teachers clapped or smiled as Gove was hounded. Several were sympathetic to the suggestion of building support with students for their next industrial action against attacks on pay and conditions. Janneke spoke for many when she said, ‘Gove is pathetic and cowardly; he should have the guts to come out and speak to ordinary students. I’d like to know if he’s making visits to any comprehensives in the area.’ Will, a Sixth former at Marling School added: ‘why doesn’t Gove take a cut out of his own salary instead of cutting education and our future.’

 

 

 

 

The coalition government is continuing the dismantling of comprehensive education and replacing it with a tiered elitist system based on ever more testing. Education will be increasingly about teaching students to regurgitate facts for exams. Those in power see no point in spending resources on a decent education for all young people, because there will not be enough decent jobs needing highly qualified people. Free Schools and Academies are a way of taking schools out of local authority control and for the private sector to further get their claws into the education system. Teachers face attacks on pay through divisive performance related pay and a squeeze on pensions, while workloads and stress increase. Further strike action this year by teachers could get wide support from students and could be part of coordinated industrial action, building to a 24 hour general strike."

Chris Moore

 

 

 

 

 

See the original SATC call for a protest, with links to local press coverage and information on why the protests was called by clicking here.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 January 2014 22:47
 

Protest against Michael Gove 10/01/2014

Saturday, 11 January 2014 16:10
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On Friday 10th January Michael Gove visited Gloucestershire for the second time in recent months. Stroud Against the Cuts received a tip-off he was due to visit Marling School in the afternoon, and arranged to meet at 3.15, half an hour before Gove was due to arrive.

We hope to provide a full report soon, in the meantime here are some photos and links to mainstream media coverage of the protests, which were joined by around 200 people in all, and saw dozens of students chanting "Gove Out!" outside the classroom Mr Gove and local MP Neil Carmichael held a small press conference (which had been intended to be secret)

Stroud Life article (with photos and video; this video in particular gives an indication of the scale of the protests, though covering only the presence at one on several entrances to the school)

Stroud News and Journal article (with more photos)

Stroud Against the Cuts' twitter account has more: https://twitter.com/StroudAntiCuts.

If you are a student of member of staff and would like to send photos, video, or a statement about why you joined the protests, please email:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Below is the original SATC call for a protest:

 

Dear Stroud Against the Cuts supporters,
Tomorrow, Friday 10th January, Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, is visiting Gloucestershire.

He will be attending Marling school in the afternoon, and we are organising an impromptu protest meeting

outside the former Downfield Hotel (now Five Valleys Vetinary Service), next to Downfield Rd.

Please join us if you are able - with placards etc.

Why protest Michael Gove's visit?

As has been happening in our health services, education is being increasingly privatised and marketised, removing local democratic control through the promotion of Academies and 'Free Schools'. (locally, Governors, Staff and parents at King's Stanley Primary school are campaigning again the school becoming an academy, see: http://www.savekingsstanley.co.uk/index.html)

A recent survey showed:

  • 79% of teachers feel that the Government’s impact on the education system over the last three-and-a-half-years has been negative.
  • 82% of teachers and 87% of school leaders do not believe the Coalition Government’s academies and free schools programme is taking education in the right direction.
  • Morale in the teaching profession continues to fall and three quarters (74%) of teachers say their morale has declined since the last General Election.
  • 63% of teachers say that more than a fifth of their workload does not directly benefit children’s learning.
  • 52% of teachers are less likely to stay in the profession as a result of changes to teachers’ pay and pensions, and 57% are less likely to stay as a result of changes to teachers’ conditions.
  • 70% of head teachers do not feel trusted by the Government to get on with the job.
  • 69% of teachers and 85% of head teachers feel they cannot work until 68.
  • The vast majority of teachers (91%) do not believe publicly funded schools should be run for profit, and 93% of teachers believe academies and free schools should employ teachers with Qualified Teacher Status. (see: http://www.teachers.org.uk/campaigns/protect-teachers)

A leaflet from the National Union of Teachers is attached.

In October last year, Teachers took strike against against attacks not only on our education system but their terms, conditions and pensions, see information here: http://stroudagainstcuts.co.uk/fightback/educationcuts/37-education/150-teachers-strike.html. Why has SATC been supporting this strike action?

"Teachers’ pensions are not “gold-plated”, they are fair and affordable. £46billion more has been paid in than has ever been paid out!

·         If private sector pensions aren’t as good then they need to be made better – please don’t pit private against public

·         Teachers have had a significant pay cut in real terms over the past few years – will be 15% by April 2014

·         Teachers are being asked to pay more, work longer and get less for their pension – we need you to report this

·         Teachers cannot physically work until 68

·         Working conditions for teachers have deteriorated under this government

·         The working conditions of teachers are the learning conditions of children

·         The new pay structure being introduced by Michael Gove pits teachers against each other. This is not the way teachers want to work

·         Striking is a last resort. We don’t want children to miss a day of school or to inconvenience parents, but we are fighting for a better education system and Michael Gove has refused to negotiate leaving us no other choice" (http://teacherroar.weebly.com/)

Apologies for the short notice,

James Beecher

for SATC

 

 

Last Updated on Saturday, 11 January 2014 16:34
 


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