Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Memoranda

Memorandum by the Association of Colleges (AoC) (HOU 29)


  The Association of Colleges (AoC) is concerned that local college lecturers are excluded by Government from the Starter Home Initiative. This is despite the fact that local college lecturers in many cases work alongside school teachers and that they teach the majority of 16-19 year olds (675,000 compared with 400,000 in schools). This work with schools will extend as Government's plans for 14-19 provision come into effect. Local college lecturers' salaries are significantly lower than those of teachers—by some £6,000 at the top of the basic scale. In addition, colleges are disproportionately responsible for providing education and training to disadvantaged people, with some 25 per cent of local college students coming from the country's 15 per cent most deprived wards. Most of these wards are in the large conurbations such as London and Manchester, where housing costs are disproportionately high. Colleges across England and Wales are reporting extensive and growing lecturer shortages, with 90 per cent of colleges with teaching vacancies and 88 per cent with support staff vacancies. The latter is particularly problematic for local colleges, since such staff are often engaged directly in the teaching process. AoC's latest survey shows that the local college lecturer vacancy rate is now over twice as high as that for schools. We therefore recommend that the Committee's Report recommends a change to the Government's current position.


    —  Further Education and Sixth Form Colleges in England, Wales and Northern Ireland serve more 16-19 year olds than all schools (675,000 compared with 400,000). In addition colleges provide education and training to 3.5 million adults.

    —  25 per cent of students who attend local colleges are from the 15 per cent most deprived wards in England.

    —  Lecturers in local colleges are paid considerably lower salaries than school teachers.

Table 1


Starting Salary
Salary Progression
14 point salary scale
6 point scale plus threshold payment scale
Highest Basic Salary

  In addition schoolteachers have access to the following extra salary allowances which are not available to FE lecturers: Management Allowance (up to £10,275); Recruitment and Retention Allowance (up to £5,262) and Special Needs Allowance (up to £3,219).

  As at September 2002, an AoC survey of member colleges shows that there were:

    —  3,239 teaching staff vacancies in September 2002 compared to 2,600 teaching staff vacancies in September 2001, representing a 25 per cent increase;

    —  4,913 management and support staff vacancies in 2002 compared to 3,400 management and support staff vacancies in 2001, representing a 44 per cent increase;

    —  88 per cent of colleges have support staff vacancies in 2002 and 48 per cent are experiencing difficulties in retaining their support staff; and

    —  in addition, a recent survey by the AoC's London Regional Office found that 86 per cent of the London local colleges who responded said that housing costs were a significant factor in recruiting and retaining their staff and many positions prove extremely difficult to fill or remain vacant.

  Overall, 90 per cent of colleges have teaching staff vacancies in 2002 and 61 per cent are experiencing difficulties in retaining their teaching staff. For comparison, there were in January 2002 4,540 school teacher vacancies across all phases—nursery, primary, secondary and special in a workforce of 437,100, making a vacancy rate of 1.2 per cent. (DFES data, August 2002). Taking the closer comparison of secondary school vacancies, there were a total of 2,450 vacancies, a vacancy rate of 1.4 per cent . In local colleges, the lecturer workforce, full and part-time is 134,000, making local colleges' vacancy rate 2.4 per cent, or over double that for schools.


  The Government-sponsored affordable housing schemes have specifically excluded lecturers in FE Colleges. Sally Keeble MP, then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions, stated in a letter dated 22 November 2001 to Tessa Jowell, copied to a local college:

    "For the purposes of the SHI (Starter Homes Initiative) we have defined the priority categories for assistance as teachers, police, nurses and other essential health staff. The assistance available for teachers is being targeted on the compulsory education sector where the most severe recruitment and retention problems for teachers, which the Initiative aims to alleviate, are being experienced."

  AoC evidence shows that the basis of the Minister's position is incorrect.


  AoC is firmly of the belief that lecturers should be included in affordable housing schemes. The shortfall of local college staffing is seriously undermining the ability of Colleges to produce a well-educated and trained population as part of the Government's lifelong learning agenda.

  We hope the committee will include in their report a recommendation to include local college lecturers and support staff in the Starter Home Initiative and more generally prioritise such staff in securing affordable housing.

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