City of Glasgow College seek to cut number of Learning Support Lecturers

Created on: 18 Oct 2023

The EIS-Further Education Lecturers Association (EIS-FELA) local dispute with City of Glasgow College continues with a reballot to extend the industrial action mandate.

The dispute is over cuts to learning and teaching time, course closures, and redundancies. Some of the roles senior management have recommended for the chop include vocational courses such as tiling, construction and fitness; access and lower-level courses; and importantly, learning support lecturers. 

In August 2005, just one of the three predecessor colleges of City of Glasgow College had around twenty learning support lecturers. City of Glasgow College has cut this down to just two – both of whom are facing compulsory redundancy 

Stephen Callaghan, a learning support lecturer who has been given redundancy notice and who has been with the College 18 years, said, “Our work comprises whole class delivery, large and small groupwork, and one to one intense support.

"The majority of my time is spent in intense one to one academic study skills with autistic students, dyslexic students, students with mental health difficulties - really any student who has a barrier to learning. Each day our timetables were filled by different students studying different subject areas. It is quite a demanding job but also rewarding.

The importance and effectiveness were reflected in end of year surveys and KPIs where students strongly identified that the additional learning support teaching was a reason for their success.”

He continues, “It is appalling that none of these decisions taken by management were equality impact assessed. No staff or students from protected characteristic groups were consulted in any way. I feel terrible when I think about the number of students who are going to slip through the net, but senior management seems intent on making their ‘savings’ through making us redundant.”

Another learning support lecturer given notice, who has worked at the College since she was 16, said, “We support students who have personal learning support plans (PLSP). This may be students who are diagnosed with autism or ADHD, those who require help in getting diagnoses, those who need additional support, those who come to college unable to read or write.

"There are a variety of reasons why a student might have a PLSP and the need is only growing. Instead, our role is being de-professionalised and, in part, outsourced to a private company.”

The parent of a student at the college who relies on learning support, said, “My child has attended the college for a number of years, relying on learning support. This was taken away in May without a word of warning. This is a total disgrace; this has had a detrimental effect on my daughter’s learning which has caused undue stress on her and within the family. The college has not taken into consideration that every student learns differently and that those students have different needs”.

A student at City of Glasgow College, Katie Fairbairn, has said, “I have been at the college for 6 years and within those 6 years I had amazing support from the learning support team and this helped me with the academic side of things which I find a challenge for me sometimes. This is my final year and I feel as if it has been tarnished because of this whole situation.

"I enjoy what I'm learning and would like to continue without worrying about the number of limited hours I now have due to the DSA payment, whereas before I never needed to worry about that. I get concerned that I won’t have my written work handed in on time if I can't get an appointment with learning support.

"This has caused me stress, but also makes me feel as if am not a part of the wider student body because of my additional needs. For a college that is supposed to be about supporting and being inclusive they really aren't doing their job properly at all.”

The redundancy consultation process is ongoing. EIS-FELA members at City of Glasgow College are re-balloting for a further mandate for industrial action in pursuit of a satisfactory resolution to the dispute. The ballot to extend industrial action closes on 23rd October.