Joint Press Release
Following a meeting with management earlier this week, the staff Unions UCU and Unison were shocked to learn that the 3 year budget finalised and presented to ESFA in July 2017 was now claimed to be widely inaccurate by the newly appointed Finance Director, who commenced post over the summer. However, it was also stated that the employer wanted to move to a position of building up its reserves to in excess of £6.6M and therefore a new 3 year budget and recovery plan needed to be drafted and will be presented to the Corporation in December. It is believed that the debts that have been caused by investment in new buildings (£4million per annum to service that debt) may be a significant factor in the apparent change to the forecast and the unions await a more detailed analysis of the finances.
Concerns have long been raised by the joint trade unions over the £50M David Hockney Building since (before) its inception and specifically whether the design was going to be fit for purpose. Since its opening in  unions have continually raised health and safety concerns about the building [sufficient space for teaching learning and staff, appropriate space class rooms and labs, concerns over monitoring of open spaces, heating, lighting, noise ,floor power points, potentially unsafe banisters] and the fact that many staff are having to deliver teaching and learning in ‘open zones’. These issues have detrimentally impacted upon both the learning and teaching experience due to excessive noise levels, fears of being overlooked and staff wellbeing. Indeed, some fee paying HE students have had to sit on the floor for lessons. Management have previously claimed that the college is 84% underutilised whilst teaching staff are reporting an increase and regular use of these zones for formal teaching sessions. Some staff and students have no access to a classroom at all throughout their timetable. The unions are deeply concerned about the negative impact this has on teaching, learning and achievement at college as well as the serious implications for staff stress and well-being. A petition, currently signed by over 100 staff has called for college management to end the use of ‘open zones’ and to guarantee appropriate teaching spaces for staff and students.
This is just one example where the concerns of staff have not been listened to with regards to the history of the College. This is in the context of front line staff being made redundant in recent years and their pay frozen in comparison to an increase in both the number of senior management post holders and their (overall )pay and an eye watering £3 million spent on consultants. Despite the increase in spending on senior managers, this has not resulted in the healthy and vibrant college that the people of Bradford need and deserve.
The FE commissioner also visited the College last week and staff unions have requested sight of all the information that was shared with the commissioner so that we can feed into any strategic review/ plan. So far this information has not been provided.