Sixth Form College members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) have voted for strike action.
The ballot, which closed today, showed 86 per cent of members in favour of action on Tuesday, March 15, from a 44 per cent turnout.
The question put to members was “In order to persuade the Secretary of State for Education [Nicky Morgan] to increase presently inadequate funding levels which cause detrimental changes to terms and conditions within the sixth form college sector are you prepared to take a day’s strike action?”
A total of 1,689 NUT members took part in the ballot, with 1,453 voting for the strike action and 235 against.
Kevin Courtney, NUT deputy general secretary, said: “This strong ballot result shows the strength of feeling among sixth form college teachers.
“They provide a vital service to over 150,000 young people, many of whom are from disadvantaged backgrounds.”
He added many colleges will face closure if cutbacks to their government funding are not reversed.
“Funding has already been cut in real terms by 14 per cent and further real terms cuts of 8 per cent are now planned,” he said.
“Colleges are dropping courses and increasing class sizes. This clearly has a direct impact on the terms and conditions of our members as well as the education of many young people.
“The situation is untenable. It is simply wrong that Government has put NUT members in the position that the only way to defend their terms and conditions is by taking strike action.”
But David Igoe, chief executive of the Sixth Form Colleges Association, refused to back the strike.
He said: “We have no problem standing alongside the NUT in a campaign to improve the funding levels for sixth form colleges.
“However, we consider this strike action to be ill-timed and ill-judged.
“It comes at a critical time in preparing students for public examinations in the summer and any disruption to that learning is regrettable.
“It also comes at a time when many colleges are actively recruiting and find themselves in very competitive environments.
“The signal this strike gives to potential parents and students is that Sixth Form Colleges are less stable institutions than other post-16 providers and that cannot be in the interest of the Union’s members.”
A Department for Education spokesman said: “Any strike action is disappointing. The disruption caused by strikes holds back children’s education and damages the reputation of the profession.
“We recognise the importance of investing in education which is why, thanks to the difficult decisions we have taken elsewhere, we have been able to protect core 16 to 19 funding.
“At the same time we have ended the unfair difference between post-16 schools and colleges by funding them per student to ensure that all young people leave education with the skills they need to thrive in modern Britain.”