High Court throws out government challenge to college strike action

London’s High Court has rejected a government attempt to stop strike action taking place at sixth form colleges across the country tomorrow.

The ruling comes after FE Week reported on Friday that the government had launched court action to challenge the planned National Union of Teachers (NUT) action.

It means that the strike action will now be going ahead tomorrow.

Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “The High Court’s decision is a victory for democracy and common sense.

“It is abundantly clear that government cuts to sixth form college funding are having a direct impact on our members’ terms and conditions and as such we are entitled to take strike action.

He added it was “regrettable” the government had not attempted to “resolve the dispute”.

“No one wants to take strike action but this is a serious issue that is getting increasingly worse,” said Mr Courtney.

“The NUT has been left with no option but to raise awareness of the problem through industrial action. Nicky Morgan’s challenge to the legitimacy of our strike action has just made that job easier.”

The union announced on February 29 that its members had backed the strike through a ballot, with 86 per cent voting in favour of the industrial action from a 44 per cent turnout.

A total of 1,689 NUT members took part in the ballot, with 1,453 voting for the strike action and 235 against.

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 Department for Education spokesman said: “The NUT is seeking to disrupt the education of thousands of students and damage the reputation of the profession. We are disappointed with the court’s decision and are considering our options.

“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.”

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