College jobs fear

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TEACHING staff have been left “stunned and incensed” by a threat to more than 40 jobs.

Bosses at Wigan and Leigh College have announced a consultation over a complete restructure of its service for learning-disabled students - Additional Learning Support - at the Parsons Walk campus.

Alarmed lecturers and support staff have calculated that the proposals will mean axing more than half the current personnel.

They claimed today that, if management succeeds in pushing through the controversial scheme, it will irreparably damage the a service that has been seen as a “lighthouse” for such provision across the region.

And that it is part of a push by Wigan and Leigh chiefs to concentrate resources on mainstream students so that it can compete in the examination league tables with rival institutions such as Winstanley or Runshaw Colleges.

An affected member of staff – who asked not to be indentified said: “I work on a daily basis with the dedicated team who support students with many and varied disabilities.

“I know how hard they work and how seriously they take their responsibility to the students they support and how little thanks they get for it.

“The proposal means that there will be little, if any, classroom-based support and that what support exists will be by its nature not as individual or course relevant.”

She said that the college was blaming funding issues for driving the need for the review.

But the reality was that management were attempting to boost pass rates by switching resources at the expense of learning-disabled students, she claimed.

A spokesman for Wigan and Leigh College said that the college, like many others due to national changes in funding for Further Education Colleges, was “regrettably” facing staffing cuts due to a reduction in budget.

She said: “The College has recently held discussions with trade union representatives on current staff utilisation and the proposal to reduce posts in the Additional Learning Support area.

“It is currently undergoing a consultation period with the relevant staff and trade unions.

“Staff across the organisation have been asked about the possibility of retirement, voluntary redundancy, reduced working or re-training to minimise compulsory redundancies.

“Significantly, the funding mechanism to support learners has changed and resources need to be targeted much more effectively to ensure the College is equipped to meet the needs that some learners may have.

“The college prides itself on the quality of Additional Learning Support it provides to learners and seeks to reassure parents and learners that the quality of support will be maintained.

“Learners with a recognised learning difficulty or disability will not be disadvantaged by the proposed changes.

“The college has made a number of efficiency savings over previous months and will ensure value for money across the whole range of activities, as well as developing areas for expansion to generate additional income.

“The current improvement in the College estate, through securing government funding, will help to attract more learners with an exciting vibrant building and create savings on running costs.

“It continues to value the excellent contribution of its staff and is committed to maintaining its high standards. “