The EIS has today raised concerns regarding the potential removal of college lecturers from the delivery of education in Scotland’s prisons.
Currently, Further Education lecturers play a vital role in education in prisons as a key component towards the rehabilitation of prisoners – but this may now be under threat by new proposals.
The EIS-FELA (Further Education Lecturers’ Association) Executive Committee has expressed its concern about plans emerging from Fife College which may result in the redundancy of lecturing staff as they transfer to Fife from New College Lanarkshire.
Under the proposals, lecturers who currently provide a valuable service in the delivery of education to prisoners, face the prospect of an uncertain future as terms and conditions may be imposed on them.
Prison lecturers at New College Lanarkshire are concerned that their employment rights under TUPE legislation will be disregarded by management at Fife College and have received no assurances that their positions will be secure following transfer.
The anxieties of staff were heightened when it became apparent that Fife College has proposed a staffing structure significantly different to that which currently exists.
It is still unclear what structure will be in place following the consultation process but the current proposals, which seek to erode the role of lecturer, fall far short of what the EIS would accept.
EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan highlighted concerns about the potential impact of the proposals on both staff and prisoners: 'This is a distressing time for all staff affected by these proposals.
'Staff want to know that their jobs are secure and that they can continue to deliver a high-quality education to their students in prisons. The right to education is a fundamental human right and is important in the rehabilitation of prisoners.
'If these proposals are implemented, we could see prison education being de-skilled with the role of lecturers being removed. This can only damage the quality of educational standards in Scottish prisons.'
The EIS will engage in negotiations with management in Fife College to ensure that members’ rights under TUPE legislation are protected and the high quality of prison education in Scotland maintained.