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Lecturers who join IFL fees boycott set to be banned from teaching

FE news | Published in TES Newspaper on 22 July, 2011 | By: Stephen Exley

Union promises legal action if those engaged in dispute are kept from classroom

FE lecturers who take part in a proposed boycott of the Institute for Learning (IfL) will be banned from the classroom, it has emerged.

Newly published guidelines state that IfL members who have not renewed their membership by 22 July will have their status changed to “lapsed”. As membership is compulsory for FE teachers by law, this will lead to them being prevented from teaching, the IfL has confirmed.

The University and College Union (UCU) is balloting its members on whether to boycott the IfL after rejecting the proposal to introduce £38-a-year fees for membership of the institute.

Michael Scott, UCU’s national head of legal services and employment law, described the IfL’s stance as “wholly unreasonable and irrational”.

In a letter to IfL chief Toni Fazaeli, Mr Scott warned that “interfering in the trade dispute by placing pressure on union members” was “potentially unlawful”. Mr Scott has since said that the union would take legal action unless the IfL softens its stance.

“In this context, it would be wholly unreasonable and irrational for the IfL to proceed to lapse members who are engaged in the industrial action,” he wrote.

“It cannot possibly serve the interests of the sector to place colleges and teachers in the situation where the teacher’s employment will be in breach of the regulations.”

Mr Scott added that it was unclear whether non-payment amounted to a breach of the IfL’s code of professional conduct. If so, he said members “must not be denied” the opportunity to appear before a disciplinary committee to plead their case.

“It must be right that whether non-payment amounts to a breach is a matter of fact to be determined (not assumed). UCU contends that in circumstances where the non- payment is a deliberate act of non-compliance… a member cannot be lapsed against their wishes without being afforded an opportunity to have their case heard,” his letter said.

Mr Scott added that, by lapsing membership, the institute would be interfering in a trade dispute. “This interference is itself potentially unlawful,” he said.

In June’s UCU vote on whether to hold a formal ballot, more than 70 per cent of members rejected the proposal for £38-a-year membership fees.

The union said that the 32 per cent turnout was higher than the national votes on pay and pensions, but the IfL said more than a third of its 200,000 members had already renewed their membership.

An IfL spokeswoman said: “Allowing membership to lapse will mean that the teacher or trainer is no longer permitted to teach in the further education sector, where there is the need to comply with the 2007 regulations. This is standard practice in other regulated professions, such as medicine or law.”

She added that the institute disagreed with UCU’s argument that members who do not pay should be referred to a professional practice committee, as it would have “no jurisdiction in the matter”.

Lapsed membership is not a matter dealt with under the institute’s code of professional practice, the spokeswoman added.


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Comment (27)

  • We need to be careful with facts. The article states 200000 members, yet the IfL published a figure, yesterday, of 181000 at the end of March 2011 and a likely figure of 144800 for 2011/12. Amazing how there's 200000 members when the IfL think things are looking good, but a massive decrease in numbers when they need to make the renewal percentage look as positive as possible!
    Don't forget though, this is a professional body we want (if you listen to the IfL), so obviously bullying and threat of livelihood would not be needed to ensure full membership.
    The ultimate joke is that IfL will not recognise the sectors defiance as a problem for them to deal with. They'll just hide behind legislation and get employers to turn the screws until we either join IfL or leave FE, hence problem solved and all members are now happy, right?
    Next step, arrange payment from source, increase membership fee as they see fit and take without a problem......
    Or perhaps they might have a bigger fight on their hands than expected!!

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    Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    9:44
    22 July, 2011

    kernow_lecturer

  • @kernow_lecturer Yes you are absolutely right that the IfL's failure to recognise that this crisis is entirely of their own making is critical. The IfL has ignored the views of lecturers from the outset. Voluntary paying members were ignored at the beginning, reluctant conscripted members have been ignored since mandatory membership, and now the non paying critics are dismissed as a vocal minority. Quite how this level of incompetance has developed is astonishing, especially given that the sector and trade unions originally *welcomed* the establishment of a professional body.

    In a commercial context IfL would be bust by now or senior people would be tendering resignations; in an educational context the body, in its current form at least, is clearly intellectually and morally bankrupt.

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    12:51
    22 July, 2011

    Institutionalised

  • The ONLY future IFL has is as a reformed, member-led organisation. In effect, the same as virtually every other professional body worth the name. But none of us are going to achieve this goal without a lot of strenuous effort to overcome the current atmosphere of denial within the Institute's management.

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    13:04
    22 July, 2011

    beagroves

  • So they want to sack 130.000 lectures do they? That should be interesting from a timetable point of view. Mind you, in the current economic climate it should prove useful to the authorities and make a saving on redundacey payouts ( Oh yes Mr Gove, some of us have clocked that one!).
    I do hope they have factored in the fact that they are breaking lord knows how many European laws, and that some of us have already contacted our MEP's.
    Good luck IFL; see you in the court of european rights!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    15:27
    22 July, 2011

    MitchThompson

  • Don't we want a professional body for FE Teachers? We were happy to have one and to join it in droves (membership is still a lot higher than for UCU) when the employers paid. So why aren't we asking the employers to continue paying? Once the government stopped paying we should have turned our ire on the government or on employers not the piggy in the middle surely? And for UCU haven't we got much bigger concerns than the £38 we should pay for a professional body - like our pensions?

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    Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    16:51
    22 July, 2011

    prsl

  • 'We were happy to have one and to join it in droves (membership is still a lot higher than for UCU) when the employers paid'?

    Not so, prsl. We were forced to join it 'in droves' or be banned from teaching. We only didn't protest because we weren't paying from our own pockets. With hindsight, we ought to have protested at the time, since IfL membership was as useless then as it is now.

    A professional body for FE may be desirable, but IfL cannot fill the bill. Nor can any outfit into which members are forced at gunpoint and then ignored, except when their captors are after their money.

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    17:45
    22 July, 2011

    rosemarywilliams

  • @prsi
    Yes we do want a Professional Body, but one that actually does something worthwhile, not just the CPD police... it's hardly the be-all and end-all of teaching now, is it, declaring that you've done 30 hours of CPD? But you can be prevented from teaching if you don't declare it. Pathetic.

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    22:00
    22 July, 2011

    bangthedrum

  • I don't see doctors protesting at having to pay to belong to the GMC, so why should we protest at having to be IfL members?

    'bangthedrum': the IfL is far more than CPD; there are huge benefits to membership.

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    8:53
    23 July, 2011

    languagesareme

  • @languagesareme: "there are huge benefits to membership."

    Could you clarify what they are? There have been no benefits for me but I acknowledge that this is just an individual experience. So it would be good to know what benefits you have received so that we can have a fuller picture.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    10:29
    23 July, 2011

    cardoon

  • Perhaps doctors don't mind the GMC because unlike the IFL it is a credible professional body rather than a sham run by clueless freeloaders who have done nothing for their members, who lie and twist their statistics, make spurious claims and put their own salary and benefits first?

    Just a thought....

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    19:41
    23 July, 2011

    weaver_fish

  • Teachers are not at risk at killing a client through malpractice nor are their clients at imminent risk of life imprisonement should they fail to do their job, as is the case with a lawyer. Comparing the teaching profession to medicine and law is misleading. The main problem with the IfL is that they did it all wrong from day one. They offered no positive incentives, they did nothing to build up their reputation, they just bullied teachers with legislation, no more, no less. They failed because they did not understand how people, and teachers, operate. They have been grossly mismanaged, as I tried to warn them in the beginning, but they just insulted me.

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    12:23
    25 July, 2011

    Dros

  • Doctors get paid much more than us and presumably their professional body acts on their behalf. Sack all of us and see what happens in September!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    12:25
    25 July, 2011

    Daylillie100

  • @Dros - I've been trying to warn them too for nearly a decade that the complete failure to honour IfL's democratic founding principle by the cabal steering it would lead to sectoral civil war. So no surprise that today we have almost 90% vote for boycott: http://www.ucu.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=5678

    Arguably the opposition is not to a professional body (IfL clearly not that) but to an amateur bungling regulator.

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    15:33
    25 July, 2011

    Institutionalised

  • 90% of the 35,000 UCU members eligible to vote, that almost 80% of UCU's members DID NOT BACK industrial action is significant. The 8,000 or so who voted yes represent less than 5% of the FE workforce and less that 12% of those who have already renewed. I'd say UCU is the big loser in this, not least because the action they are asking members to take is, in fact, illegal which means they will breach the Trade Union Act if they follow it through. Totally shambolic for a union, if you ask me.

    Institutionalised, can you give evidence of 'IfL's democratic founding principle' or are you just cheesed off with Sally Hunt's drive to make UCU less democratic (with IfL making a useful diversion) so you are taking your frustrations out elsewhere? What would you do any different, bearing in mind IfL is a professional body and the overwhelming factor is acting in the public interest. There isn't a professional body in the country with a democratic principle, face facts .... you just don't get professional bodies.

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    20:00
    25 July, 2011

    teachered

  • And what happened to UCU? Membership now less than a third of the college teaching population - dying on its feet or what?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    20:02
    25 July, 2011

    teachered

  • Teachered, you analyse figures like the IfL. Assuming 34505 members of UCU, 9450 voted in the ballot. This is a sample of 27.4% of possible voters, more than enough to be regarded as representative of the population. Hence the evidence suggests 30857 members would support the boycott.

    Comparing this to IfL surveys, where the best turnout was 4% of membership, and the worst 0.5%, yet the results were taken to be representative, by the IfL.

    Oh, might be worth mentioning I'm not a member of the UCU but refuse to pay. I would wager my fellow union members would vote in a similar way. So perhaps the UCU ballot is representative of other unions. Check out the ATL survey results.

    Finally, on 7th July only 53583 members had renewed and paid. Given the total lack of IfL communication about the figures on 22nd July, it could be suggested the numbers don't look too good and the 'UCU feeling' is pretty much alive and kicking in most of us.

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    Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    21:55
    25 July, 2011

    kernow_lecturer

  • A 90% majority, what an overwhelming vote of no confidence in the If£! And what a blow to their campaign of bullying and threats.

    I sense victory around the corner as we see the first signs of their damning silence break with the irrational anger showing through via one of its only surviving supporters. For @Teachered to go to the extent of wilfully misrepresenting totally reliable data and risk comparisons with If£’s totally unreliable data, in an attempt to get away with a negative spin on what is clearly an unprecedented vote for a boycott by representative sample, is just reckless. But to slag off all other professional bodies as being undemocratic without justification is inappropriate, ingenuous and professionally unethical.

    IFL will have to follow suit and break their silence or be condemned by it. The more they speak the more they will condemn themselves. This vote shows that the majority of their members despise them.

    For every day they hold on to office, some of them are raking in another £500. But while we can expect them to fight to the last, we must also remember that they’re a private company now, so we can expect them to keep their eyes on their coffersand whether there’ll be enough in them after a lengthy fight to finance their golden handshakes when they finally have to depart.

    So the question is: How long can they last? From a purely financial perspective it would be more beneficial to all involved if they went ASAP........ I wonder?

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    0:42
    26 July, 2011

    Ifl Piffle

  • Does anyone know how much their recent bail out of extra money from the government was?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    7:44
    26 July, 2011

    weaver_fish

  • @Teachered - UCU is one of the only unions in the TUC which is consistently growing, so, far from dying on it's feet it's actually a thriving a successful union.

    In terms of a mandate for action - this is a very good one, significantly better than any which the IfL has through it's surveys, and the fact that more than twice the membership of the FE UCU is withholding payment demonstrates that this is bigger than just UCU - it's an action from across the sector and will be almost impossible to enforce.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    8:56
    26 July, 2011

    Cheerfulsoul

  • Letter to John Hayes MP - Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning


    Dear John

    Imagine, in order to do your job as an MP, being forced to join a professional body that had Edwina Currie as its CEO and John Prescott as its deputy CEO.

    NOW can you see why we are refusing to pay IfL?

    Cheers

    Weaver

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    9:09
    26 July, 2011

    weaver_fish

  • Nice one, weaverfish. Wonder when, where and how MPs declare their CPD? And who checks their qualifications for the job?

    BTW, the sudden drastic reduction in IfL's stated membership seems to be connected with the sudden exit of UNISON-represented 'assistants', and people teaching ver few hours, who ought never to have been recruited in the first place. As far as one can gather, there were some 60,000 of them and the government paid the IfL £ 30 of taxpayers' money for each of them from 2008 to 2011. Ought not that money to be repaid, with interest, to the public purse?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    9:22
    26 July, 2011

    rosemarywilliams

  • @teachered “Institutionalised, can you give evidence of 'IfL's democratic founding principle' “ – yes I can, the IfL sold itself to the sector as being “led by the members for the members”. It has failed in that – just one example, are you are that the IfL has been in process of electing a President, & that members did not have a direct vote?

    Am I “cheesed off with Sally Hunt's drive to make UCU less democratic” – No not at all - UCU is fundamentally democratic (there are debates about how best to achieve this I grant you). I have a vote on who sits on NEC, who is President, who is General Secretary – NOT SO in IfL with many Advisory Council members unelected / sector appointments, Chair & President not elected direct by members, Deputy CEO & CEO appointed not elected.

    What would I do different? Scrap current governance model altogether – scrap Advisory Council & Non Exec Board, replace it with single entirely democratically elected Executive Body. Lose current discredited regime, surely they will do decent thing in coming weeks anyway or howls of derision will only become louder. Directly elect Chair & President, moved to elected General Secretary role over time with employed staff serving rather than “leading.” That would be for starters.

    Why do you think I just “don’t get professional bodies” – disagreeing with me is fine but putting forward a sensible counter argument would be better. I think I do have a reasonable insight - professionalism has often been about the promotion of various ideological / political agendas. What we are seeing being played out around IfL is a civil war in the sector over two clear and distinct positions on professionalism: managerial and democratic ideologies. The IfL - or at least the cabal of mainly ex managers / bureaucrats / apparatchniks running it - has essentially espoused a managerial model, many of the opponents are advocating a democratic approach instead. My money is on the reformers, not because they are right, but because the IfL’s ledaership complete incompetance in the face of the current crisis.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    9:50
    26 July, 2011

    Institutionalised

  • @languagesareme. OK, you mention the huge benefits. What are they, because I've spent some time on the If£ fora explaining what I think of these benefits? Maybe I'm wrong. I would like you to shed some light, please.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    10:08
    26 July, 2011

    bangthedrum

  • @teachered. Look at some of the IfL's own statistics and surveys before you start slinging mud at UCU. A FAR GREATER proportion 0f UCU members voted against the If£ than any If£ members who have commented on their stupid surveys. Only 5000 IfL members contributed to the spurious "We Want To Teach In Schools" debate. Pathetic. Don't give me that. The If£ is a master of spinning thin support into a massive majority. Now I'm angry...

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    10:12
    26 July, 2011

    bangthedrum

  • The IFL are now in a final fight for their lives and will use tactics to threaten and bully people to pay up. Totally unprofessional! IFL YOU HAVE LOST! You deserve what you get.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    17:18
    26 July, 2011

    Daylillie100

  • @beagroves. Thanks for this insightful comment from within the ranks of the IfL. As I said when I just wrote to John Hayes MP. - I would no more pay £38 for IfL membership than I would for an empty cardboard box. QTLS is far less rigorous than the 2-year part-time PGCE I finished in 2009 (complete with observed professional practice). But they won't listen. As you say, they're in denial.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    1:45
    28 July, 2011

    bangthedrum

  • @bangthedrum
    Yes, I'm glad @BeaGroves was elected by the Advisory Group to be the (unpaid) President of the IfL. She didn't expect to get through because of her 'reform' stance.

    Potentially, with her help, the IfL could become a member-led organisation.

    She has been the General Secretary for the Association of Part-Time Tutors (www.aptt.org.uk) since she founded the organisation in 1995 *because she gets voted back into the role*, and has done a great job with it. As you will see on the APTT Charter, the first statement is "The APTT is a democratic organisation".

    Many of us in the APTT thought the IfL would make our organisation redundant. Unfortunately, it has done almost nothing that we do to support part-time educators in FE and Adult Education - despite it's massive resources!

    Bea may not have been elected by the IfL membership, but I think she is the only person we would have voted for if we had the choice (although some of the people posting here and on the IfL LinkedIn group may be excellent choices also), so I think we should back Beatrix as much as we can.

    It would be great, if we can get rid of the Regulatory 'Licence to Practice', which is a waste of money, entirely unnecessary, and in the IfL's case a licence to print money!

    If the government stand-fast in denying the FE workforce the 'choice' of professional body to belong to, then at least give Beatrix your support to make the changes necessary to get the IfL to become a body that truly represents it's members. She may need all the support she can get, in order to gain any headway with the current, intransigent, management.

    :-)

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    11:10
    12 September, 2011

    alloneplanet

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