Strategic Area Reviews (STARS) and FE/6th Form Colleges

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2005 Local Government Service Group Conference
24 February 2005
Carried as Amended

This Local Government Service Group Conference notes with concern the vast amounts of money controlled by unelected, unaccountable quangos in the UK and the influence, for good or bad, on the lives of all of our members. This is perhaps demonstrated most clearly in the case of Boards of Management, which are the governing bodies of FE Colleges. They were introduced with incorporation and are, in effect, self-perpetuation oligarchies. The current legislation, allows Principals, should they so choose, not to follow their own procedures, or indeed, even look at them. This lack of governance and accountability in FE colleges means that issues and grievances raised by our members can go on for years without being addressed.

Moreover, 6th Form and FE Colleges are funded in widely disparate ways. In England and Wales, this is largely influenced by the learning and skills councils (LSCs) and in Scotland the Scottish Further and Higher Education Council (SFHEC). The result is very varied terms and conditions for our members and short term reactionary measures such as redundancies one year, followed by recruitment the next. This causes unnecessary trauma for our members.

Success for All instructed all LSCs to examine educational provision for 14-19 year olds. The process for this varies from region to region and the consultation is often veiled in secrecy – resulting in our members not having a voice or any input into this important process.

Past Local Government conference motions have called on our trade union reps on LSCs to liaise more closely with regional FE committees. Despite this, there has been little or no progress on this at all.

STARs will have a major impact on our members in education – from secondary, through 6th forms and into FE. STARs will also impact on our lives as stakeholders in other ways – e.g. as parents. Without meaningful consultation and discussion, our members could be fundamentally affected by a two-tier system of terms and conditions.

This Service Group Conference, therefore, calls on the Local Government Service Group Executive to:

1)That the Local Government Service Groups investigates the lack of governance and accountability in FE, and in particular the roles of Boards of Management and Funding Bodies within each country.

2)Reinforce previous Service Group Conference decisions to request UNISON trade union representatives on LSCs and Scottish Further and Higher Education Funding Council (SFHEFC) to liaise with regional FE committees and regional Local Government committees.

3)Distribute any and all information relating to education to FE reps via branches

4)Call on the UNISON national representatives on the national LSC to report to the national FE committee/Local Government Service Group Executive on LSC strategy in order for us to formulate our own strategies with similar reporting at regional level

5)Work with LAOS to develop stewards’ training packs to enable all FE stewards gain knowledge and understanding of the English, Welsh and Scottish Education systems and how to respond to consultations