Further education cuts show what this government is capable of

It was a pleasure to take part in the picket line at City and Islington College this morning as they took part in today’s national strike action.

It’s clear from talking to members – like Nicola and Eleanor who I met this morning – that the scale of the problems faced in FE goes beyond cuts and low pay.

Whilst the struggles of FE workers in England might not be headline news, the situation in the sector should serve as a warning of what the government are capable of.


As I said when the strike was first called, when the pay offer from employers is quite literally nothing, it’s an insult. Strike action is never taken on a whim – but it’s the only option when every other avenue has been exhausted, and that’s certainly the case when it comes to FE.

And it’s especially troubling considering how important further education is to those who rely on it. Further education students are more likely to be from a deprived background compared with school sixth form students, more than 100,000 over 60s are taught in FE colleges each year and those who rely on FE are more likely to have been hit by other government cuts too.

Yet all of the work that FE colleges do is put at risk by persistent hacking away at budgets and the laughable pay offers made by employers.

It’s time for the government to realise that good quality education costs money, and can’t be done on ever depleted resources. And it’s time for employers to negotiate with staff on a proper pay offer, so that they can afford to keep on coming to work and providing the world class support for students who need their help.