Uckfield Community Technology College is closed to students in years seven to 11 today for the second time in eight days as teachers continue a strike over pay.
There were picket lines outside college gates this morning to raise awareness of a call for a 2% pay rise for all teachers.
A pay review body has recommended the rise for those at the top and bottom ends of the teaching scale – the only areas it is able to influence – and members of the National Education Union says that should be paid to those in the middle grades too, those in their second to fifth years of teaching.
Jamie Medley the NEU rep at UCTC said: “The pay review body is only allowed to suggest an increase to the top and bottom of the scale and East Sussex County Council has interpreted that as not including the whole scale.
“It means that there is a 2% increase for teachers in the first year and a 2% increase for teachers in their sixth year but 1% to everybody in between.”
Jamie said the county claims the schools are allowed to choose the rate of increase they pay but the head teachers say they haven’t been given the money to pay 2%.
Jamie added it would cost £10,600 to sort the problem at UCTC and there was a risk of teachers leaving the college for higher rates of pay elsewhere.
For example he said, there were teachers at the college who lived in Brighton who, for the first time, would be able to earn more by teaching in Brighton schools.
He told Uckfield News: “We don’t want to be here on the picket line. We don’t want students to miss out on school but we believe the impact of not paying the 2% increase to all teachers will have a greater impact on education overall.”
The striking teachers plan to spend time in Uckfield town centre later today talking to local people about the reason for the strike.
Jamie said that while the fight is for a small increase for teachers now there needs to be a much larger increase for teachers. This was the seventh year of a below inflation pay increase, leading to a 12% loss overall.
UCTC sixth formers mounted a protest today in support of the striking teachers and spelled out “Stop School Cuts”. See the Uckfield News story: Uckfield sixth form students support teachers’ strike.
College principal Hugh Hennebry said: “The key issue should be all about funding for schools. Our community of parents, students and business leaders as well as teachers and staff in schools all know and value the difference a great education makes to everyone.
“This is something that everyone in our community cares about because of the way excellent education improves our economy as well as transforming young people’s lives. We should focus on how we can make a bigger investment in education.
“Cuts to education have had an impact. In East Sussex, we are privileged to have wonderful schools and with improved funding we can achieve so much more.”