to what end…?

Around Easter I wrote a post about cuts to my animation course. This was a very difficult time for our students as well as us as tutors. I did not write this post to cause trouble or to put Tower Hamlets College down – but it was rather a cry for help, a story about our wonderful courses and the worrying developments which will eventually bring on their closure.

my personal experience

Hoping to make our senior management aware of our worries and the contributing factors to this situation I sent the link to our new principal. I was asked to go see him about this – and at that point I was ready to be challenged on my decision of writing such a public statement, and to bear the consequences. And though the meeting did not bring much direct progress on the issues I raised – I found our new principal to be a very professional as well as understanding man. He took time to discuss the course and related issues as well as my apparent need to go public with my opinion.
In the past, my experience with senior managers overall had not been great (and I am talking about my teaching experience in other places, not THC, here). Usually, though you might be called in for a conversation – it is pretty clear that the meeting is merely a token gesture, so really just a waste of time, as the manager in question does not actually listen at all. I’m sure this is common in a lot of work places.

My meeting with our new principal at THC however was very different. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that he had carefully considered my email and blog post before our meeting and that he was making time to talk to me and really listened to what I had to say. So I left the meeting feeling that the change of leadership at THC was very positive and that our new principal would bring hope for the future. We were in good hands.

I was hopeful that things would change for the better if some of the issues affecting our recruitment were addressed. And towards the end of the year I actually had – for the first time in about 3 years – some interviews with potential students for the following academic year, a sign of improved marketing and better visibility of our courses, perhaps? — I was feeling a little more optimistic again.
And then the shit hit the fan (please excuse the harsh words).

changes through funding cuts

Announcements of cuts to ESOL, redundancies etc….

Before I carry on – I’d just like to say that I am not very political person and being only part-time at the college I have to admit that I am not really interested in understanding the college politics in depth or claim to know how the finances of any community college are done. I have always thought that the educational system in the UK is flawed and the funding cuts by the government to education have already caused damage to adult education specifically over the last few years – with this situation now getting worse in the current economic climate.
I don’t consider myself a teacher/tutor or whatever you’d like to call it. I’m a webdesigner who also teaches – so teaching is my second job and I love it. But my interest and focus is not with the college and its politics – it lies only with my students to ensure their education, their learning of new skills and ultimately their progression towards their personal goals. One of the reasons why I love working at THC has always been that I would have the chance to make a difference to people who might not be able to afford further training in other places – the community aspect is very important to me. I love sharing my knowledge and helping my student explore their talents and blossom into the creative professionals they want to be.

I am also a member of the UCU as I believe in a democratic process and feel the principle of ‘power to the people’ is vital, especially considering how management often loses touch with its workforce. So despite not being the most active of members I did consider the union to be important and overall an empowering organisation (though I am reconsidering my opinion at the moment).

So when the cuts were announced at the end of last year – the union called a strike to protest against these cuts and redundancies. In principle – I would agree. But then it became clear that the strike action called for was to be indefinite, announcing strike days already for september, at the very start of the new academic year… This worried me immensely – and it did not feel right to plan so far ahead without even allowing time for negotiations or considering that these issues might be addressed and resolved before the start of another academic year. I went into the summer worried and unsettled and carried on with my own freelance work, hoping once september came these issues might be resolved.
On the first day back at the end of August – I attended the union meeting to hear news and updates. I was impressed with the progress the union had made and felt that both senior management and the union had come far. The more the meeting went on however – the more personal the angle seemed to become. The union’s criticism seemed to become more and more narrow minded and focused on bringing down one man, our principal – rather than changing a situation for the better. As I mentioned, I don’t claim to understand the politics behind this and from my point of view I could not understand why this action seemed to be so specifically against the management at our college – where I would think we should rather be acting against government decisions on funding cuts.

I don’t mean to sound like I am defending the management either – I truly do not know whether their decisions of implementing cuts etc are right or wrong and so far I had thought I could trust the union and their take on the politics involved. But talking to our union reps and people actively involved in the strike action later on – I was starting to feel more and more uncomfortable with their proceedings…
The angle of blaming one person for everything that has been going wrong at the college over the years – and for cuts put in place by a government that clearly does not give education the importance it deserves – seems very distorted and wrong to me.

So when the strike was announced to be carried on – throughout the days of enrolment – my heart sank. Not knowing what to think or do – I feel myself now very upset by this. Completely torn – I remained at home during the first 2 days of the strike, hoping for a resolution by the start of open enrolment the following week. I did not feel I could cross the picketline but could also not support the action by actively participating as I did not agree with the decision of the union.
Considering the importance of enrolment however – and the fact that it was left to only a very limited number of people to do the work of many – I could not bring myself to stay away and not go into college. I really struggled to come to this decision – not being sure what to do. I do believe in the principle of the union – but I do not believe that a strike which will cause such disruption at the very beginning of the academic year is justified. For me, this action is like a boycott of our student’s education, our own jobs – rather than a positive action to bring on change. So the following week with the start of open enrolment I finally decided to go to work as normal.

enrolment week

I write this as the enrolment week is over and the strike action continues. And I have to admit that I have never felt so disheartened and depressed about my courses. It was without doubt the worst week I ever experienced at THC. Having to go through the line of my colleagues on strike was very hard as well as upsetting and made me feel like a traitor. Though at the same time I really could not change my mind about going in to do my job as I completely disagree with the union’s attitude.
Inside the college – only a limited number of people were there – with line / senior managers all working hard to keep the enrolment running as smoothly as possible despite the strike. There is no way to tell how much the strike outside the college really affected numbers on enrolment – but I have no doubt that especially our adult courses in Creative Arts have been affected quite substantially.

As the week went on – it became harder and harder … only very few adults came in, reports of how union strikers had approached people outside, trying to stop students from enrolling (saying things like “if you go in now to enrol – people will lose their jobs” etc) became more frequent, worrying us a great deal… Though I would like to point out that the overall consensus within the union had been not to be this pushy or disruptive to the potential students themselves so it is likely that this was done by only a few of the strikers. Police and security were also there to ensure that people were not physically stopped from entering the college.
For me, going outside for a quick fag break would end up in a conversation with the union guys – being challenged on my position as union member not supporting the strike action and this also became more and more intense. A few snippets from what I was told by various people on the picketline who tried to convince me to join the strike and my responses:

  • “the letters from the principle saying thanks to people who are in to work during enrolment are just a manipulative gesture to undermine the union”
    really…? have you seen how stressful it is in there? Trying to make sure that we do enrol students for our courses and  that there are actually jobs left once the strike is over has been hard work, especially for our line managers and admin staff… so the letter was actually an acknowledgement of this, in my view.
  • “he (principal) just wants to squash the union – he’s testing us”
    feels to me like the other way around, considering the progress made over the summer.
  • “they’ve put a businessman in charge who wants to run the college as a business and make profit – a ridiculous concept and he has to be stopped”
    again, why is the strike not against government decisions? Seems to me that everything is changing with funding and education so how do you know that it is not necessary for our college to survive by making a profit now to secure our future?
  • “only weak people are going in – as they feel bullied by management”
    ??? WHAT?!? didn’t realise I was being weak or being bullied, sorry… I actually feel it cost me more strength to go in than simply stay at home and avoid all conflict…
  • “it is unbelievable how much abuse staff have to take at this college”
    ??? W-H-A-T !!!??? Now we’re being abused? How?
  • “people are being bullied by management”
    really? well, I feel quite bullied by you, actually….

Apparently now – the focus is shifting, the union has a lot of support from other unions and seems determined to strike however long it will take. The support from other unions to me just highlights the fact that this strike should be against the government and its funding cuts – rather than be a strike for one single college, focusing on one man and his team. I may be naive and ill-informed about these sort of issues but I cannot support an action that becomes so petty and seems more like a power struggle than a drive for change.
So the strike continues – causing chaos for weeks to come, or worse: without enough students – we will lose our courses and our jobs.

Though I started the week feeling very torn whether I had made the right decision to go to work – the more time went on the more obvious it became to me that this action had turned into a quite vindictive and almost personal campaign against the principal, a very unsettling attitude in my eyes. Though I think my time at THC is now coming to an end – I feel the management has dealt with this situation very well. Senior managers and the principal himself were around throughout enrolment, working alongside everyone else, talking to us, trying to keep up morale – we were brought lunch and cups of tea and generally the proceedings went very well – the students who did come in were looked after as best as we could manage and will hopefully not feel too intimidated or affected by the strike action. It was great to see how everyone was pulling together to get the work done.
I started my post with telling you about my experience with the new principal as I wanted to let you know how he dealt with me and my blog post. I personally feel that he is very good for the college. It was about time for strong leadership – and a more direct approach to dealing with issues. The new principal actually communicates directly with us – informing us about decisions made – rather than us either receiving a letter ‘on behalf of…’ or being informed by our heads of department – we actually hear from him directly. So I am quite sad that it might be the end for me here when the college finally has a strong principal who might bring a brighter future.

our courses

However – for myself, my teaching team and my courses – the situation looks worse than ever. Student numbers are at an all-time low at the end of enrolment week. We still have time to recruit more students but I do not trust a hope and fear we will lose our courses this year. With enrolment having been bad over the last years already – I would usually spend all my spare time with emailing former students asking them to spread the word, finding free online listings, producing promotional flyers etc (with my team as well as former students offering to go around to drop these off in various places)… etc… this year however with a lot of client work on, I literally do not have the time to spend on all this extra promotion and so I fear this will now bring on the end for my courses, affecting 8 people who teach with me.
My worry is that though the union are trying to save a certain number of jobs (already reduced from 40 to about 12-13, from what I understand) — they will actually cost even more people their jobs as we will not have enough students enrolled to run all our courses.

At the end of this week I had a strong urge to simply give up, hand in my resignation right there and then… as I simply cannot do this any more… But my urge of not deserting the small team left now during such hard times won and I will wait and see, helping out as much as I can to get everyone else’s classes taken care of ~ still hoping mine might survive as well.

But maybe it really is time for me to leave THC — the politics of such a large college which after all is mainly focused on 6th form are doing my head in. I am very passionate about teaching and can usually ignore all this as soon as I am in the room with my students. This is what I’m there for – to teach. And I could go somewhere else – but having spent so much time on improving my courses and building up such a great team – I feel reluctant to do so and start again from scratch.
But now, with this strike which seems ever so vindictive and misdirected and the low numbers… I feel very down and unsure about the future. Sad as it might be – I would miss teaching terribly – maybe this proves once again that as a practicing professional working within education the politics are simply too much to handle.

04/09/2009 blog,thoughts

32 Responses to “to what end…?”

  1. Gravatar ilze says:

    It’s just sad to read this. :(
    Sad because someone out there, who really needs, will loose great tutor.

  2. Gravatar belinda ackermann says:

    sorry to hear that things are so difficult
    i feel for you
    love b

  3. Gravatar A. Dee says:

    Hey Prisca,

    As I’ve said before, I totally agree with the stance you took during enrolement week at THC and you continue to have my full support.

    I think you summed it up perfectly and kinda nailed it in the last paragraph where you said “I am very passionate about teaching and can usually ignore all this as soon as I am in the room with my students. This is what I’m there for – to teach”. That being said, and the fact that as you went on to say, you’ve spent so much time on improving your courses and building up such a great team, were you to leave, what makes you think that you’d be starting from scratch?… In times gone by – and even with freelancers and actors now – craftspeople and creatives toured around doing jobs and plying their trade, only to move on when the job was over. So if the sun really is setting for you on your time at Tower Hamlets College, don’t think of the waste, think instead of the great work that you and your team have done in helping people to reach “their personal goals”. Including me! Plus, it’s a big planet out there. The world needs people like you. With no exaggeration, may I say that you’ve both touched and improved so many lives, so never forget that.

    I know it’s draining, but as long as you have the will and the strength to continue – which you so do… you will!

    The fight continues!!

    A. Dee xo

  4. Gravatar John Budis says:

    …I would like to know how you would feel if you were one of the thirteen members of staff- who love teaching, are good at their job and have committed their whole lives to this great profession-being told by the new principal that they have to go.

    You are pondering whether to leave Tower Hamlets College because the ‘politics’ of the situation are too much to handle. If only any of the thirteen had that luxury.

    Being in a union means standing beside your colleagues. I am saddened that you feel that you cannot do this.

    Telling thirteen memebrs of staff that they have to go…is vindictive. That is what we are striking against.

  5. Gravatar prisca says:

    Thanks for your support, Ilze, Belinda and A.Dee ;) much appreciated :)

    John, thanks for commenting. I am sorry that I cannot support the action. I don’t understand the politics involved but had my teaching affected already by funding cuts. I used to teach more hours and did lose out when the first cuts came in.
    I do think it is the government decisions on funding cuts in the first place that are to blame – and not a new management that now has to make some tough decisions. And the strike which is supposedly saving those 13 jobs does look like it will cost me mine, as well as affecting the hourly paid tutors working with me.
    If the strike is successful and you keep those 13 – but others lose their jobs – what will be done then? More strike action to save those jobs…? — and where exactly does that leave our students?

  6. Gravatar Magdalena says:


    I work at THC, in Maths. It’s true that it’s sad to read this. I’m sorry you are having such a difficult time, we all are. It’s also true that I agree with a lot of things you wrote but I dissagree with some others.

    I’d love to meet you and disscuss the situation. I love talking about education and I feel passionate about teaching like you.

    It’d be sad to lose someone so involved in education and I do wish that your courses survive. You said you don’t consider yourself a teacher but I really think that you -actually- are.

    I look forward to meeting you.


    PS: I don’t even know if you are man or a woman!

  7. Gravatar Ramesh says:

    I feel sorry for other poeple like me who may want to change career and perhaps see an avenue in creatives as I did; it gave me some hope and worked hard for it.
    Sadly, politics seems to win mostly as I know to my cost.

  8. Gravatar prisca says:


    thanks for your comment. And yes, times are difficult for all of us – I do realise that. I merely hope that this situation will be resolved soon without too much damage being done.

    I work in Creative Arts – and sure, we can talk about this – but I think I’ve said all I have to say. And if you were thinking to convince me to join the strike action ~ sorry, my mind is made up and I’m all talked out on that front.

    About me not being a teacher (thanks, yes, I am) – I merely pointed this out to make it clear that my situation as part time adult tutor is different to those teaching 16-19 year olds.

    PS: I am a woman :)

  9. Gravatar David says:

    Really sorry to hear things have been this bad for you. It’s such a shame as I really enjoyed my time at THC learning from you. I was never one for classroom learning until I took the Graphic design for the web course. I feel more sorry for the people who are not going to be able to attend your classes and move on in their careers.

    Im always around if you need to chat about it.

    Take Care


  10. Gravatar prisca says:

    Thanks, David :)
    lovely to hear that – and thanks for your support :)

  11. Gravatar Marketing Department at THC says:

    The Marketing Department agrees with you Prisca, yes defending education is SO important, and these strikes don’t help us, the learner or our community. We, with our trusty friend airTHC, have been in the community all summer making sure education is available to all, including those who have previously shied away from it, by talking to people face to face in their community. We are committed to providing opportunities to those in our Borough and have spent over 25 days this summer talking to people about the fantastic, broad education that we offer here at Tower Hamlets College. We welcome any staff who ask for our help in promoting their courses – ideas from all members of staff as to where we should market individual courses are always welcome. Seeing the senior management team pulling everyone together with a hands on approach during enrolment gives us, in Marketing, great faith for the future of Tower Hamlets College.

  12. Gravatar prisca says:

    Thanks so much for your comment :-)
    and thank you for all your hard work over the summer. I just hope that the strike action now does not un-do a lot of the work you have done with your promotion.

  13. Gravatar Jahed Choudhury says:


    I am saddened to learn that you feel you may have to leave Tower Hamlets College. I have enjoyed your web design course. I believe you are excellent teacher, it will be a great loss for towerhamlets college and this community if you leave tower hamlets.


  14. Gravatar Cath Lepper says:

    Hi Prisca,

    so sorry to hear about all the conflicts you are having to deal with, just to do your job. A great shame as it is a job that you do very well, and a set of courses that are very much in need.

    I agree with you that it is the central government that should be targeted, and not the principle, as that is where the policy changes are coming from. If your Principle is someone who is open, then it would be more productive for the Union to work with him than against him. If you ask me you know more about politics than the Union does!

    I hope that all the digital arts courses will continue to run, as there aren’t enough that are affordable in London. Hopefully funding can be sought from other sources, for these and ESOL courses too.

    Good luck with this year, and hopefully many more to come!


  15. Gravatar prisca says:

    Jahed, thanks ;) I’d be sad to go but fear I will not have a choice….

    Cath ;) thanks ~ still hoping we will survive this troubled start to the year somehow. The worst thing is I can do nothing else but wait and hope…

  16. Gravatar jayne wallett says:

    Prisca – I just feel I had to answer your post.

    You have written very harshly about the teaching staff who are on strike.

    Many of them are people you know very well and who you know are not vindictive.

    They are risking their own jobs to fight for people who have been sacked so unfairly and would be fighting for you if you were one of those who had been made redundant.


  17. Gravatar prisca says:

    Jayne, thanks for commenting.
    Sorry you feel I’ve been too harsh but I simply do not feel that the union is dealing with this in the right way – to me, it all seems too personal and I simply cannot understand why it is supposed to be a good thing that the college is now in chaos. Remarks on the ‘defendjobsandeducation’ blog pointing out how the staff inside the college have had to cope, with such a tone of mockery… no, sorry, I simply don’t understand.
    Also, why are we looking at one single college alone when we know that the cuts are affecting many more. Why not strike against this? Why is this all so personal?

    When funding cuts come in – decisions need to be made to ensure that the college overall will survive. I have no idea whether the management decisions are right or wrong as I do not claim to know their job.
    In the circumstance when the government cuts vital funds and jobs have to go — I don’t think I would want to union to step in, I would not consider my job to be worth all this chaos. I personally would not want to be responsible for causing so much worry to so many people (college staff and students) and maybe even be the reason why some courses would be closed down with even more people losing their jobs. I know I’m lucky that I have another job as well and I don’t mean to say that these jobs are unimportant, not at all. But will saving those 13 jobs really solve anything in the long run?
    And why do our students have to suffer all this chaos? Is it fair on them?

    As for my lovely colleagues who I respect and value very much – Jayne, please don’t think I am referring to the CreativeArts staff with my comments on the union. I was very happy to talk to CA staff on the picketline – these discussions were not as intense and pushy as the conversations with other union members. Another one of my worries is of course whether the strike will cause a rift between us. I sincerely hope we can all just accept each others opinion and not let it affect our existing relationship.

    Here’s hoping we will soon be able to put all this behind us and be back with our students in the classrooms (if our courses survive).

  18. Gravatar Gaia says:


    I am quite shocked to read about what is happening at the college. It is bad enough that the funds have been cut, but if people are worried about their jobs they should make sure that they do theirs very well, instead of stabing the same institution that pays them all.

    Also, this may negatively affect prospective students who may turn somewhere else.

    I wish to read more positive news in the near future, much needed i fear.
    Take care.


  19. Gravatar prisca says:

    Gaia :)
    thanks … yes, very confusing and worrying times.
    After a union meeting today – the strike is set to continue into next week (wed 16/9/09), now also affecting the start of teaching…
    And you are spot on with pointing out that this is affecting our students – especially those who are already enrolled or are considering to enrol – & this is where I stand, on my students’ side, hoping for an end to this situation and a return to the classroom for all of us :)

  20. Gravatar "a fellow lovey" says:

    Prisca – keep your chin up. You are valued and respected. I have read the comments above and am very, very saddened to see that a close colleague and manager of yours would make a comment to you here and then feel the need to publicise it through the ” Tower Hamlets College – Stop The Cuts ” site. Why? For her own glorification? Totally unprofessional and unforgiveable! I have lost all respect for her.
    From A FAN x

  21. Gravatar mshel says:

    I totally get where yr coming from! I’m wondering the Union have done the Governments Dirty work for them! I mean if they cannot see the damage they are doing, by making it personal,and not political, I’d question the leaderships motives and Authority.(How were they elected?) Unfortunately I suspect the old popularity game may be operating ie; charimatic populist with no integrity or cleverness running things! Although i could be wrong…
    Good luck however it turns out, yr too talented to be unemployed as a teacher for long.. Its their loss not yours.

  22. Gravatar prisca says:

    sorry about the late response, busy days…

    Thanks everyone ;)

    Mshel – yes, certainly feels like it to me… and the strike is still on today, though I am hoping it will come to an end soon as mediators are now involved, fingers crossed. And here’s hoping our courses will survive…

  23. Gravatar prisca says:

    UPDATE 25/9/09

    the strike is now finally over ~ and today the strikers were back at work. A calm if tense day with strange feelings (and mixed reactions to my article in TES)…

    I’m glad it’s over and we can finally get back to normal. I was lucky enough to have most of my teaching team on my side during this stressful time and now we’re a full team again :) and can focus on our lovely students, crossing our fingers to recruit for the final places and hoping for a survival of our courses. Wish us luck :)

  24. Gravatar Wavid says:

    I think you should in deed receive mixed reactions to your article in TES. Considering that your view is in an extreme minority and the vast majority of UCU members stood shoulder to shoulder to defend jobs, student places – ESOL? and education in one of the poorest boroughs in the country. I have found that those who corssed the line struggled to seperate the ‘personal’ from the wider issue of defending education. One personal issue that affected the extreme minority of staff was that of losing income striking indefinately. Wonder how those who have been bullied into ‘voluntarily’ redundancy feel about their income levels now? When will they feel that their lives will get back to ‘normal’?

  25. Gravatar prisca says:

    of course, I did not expect anything else but a mixed reaction. I am by no means dismissing the job losses as minor and I am glad this action ensured a more positive outcome for those affected. I also appreciate that those on strike have lost income.

    My point remains that due to low recruitment now more jobs are in jeopardy and what will happen then? More courses cut, students losing out and a number of people will lose their jobs as a consequence – another strike? Despite yet more funding cuts which we already know will come from the political powers responsible for this situation…?
    Why was this action against our management? Why was it not against the root of the problem – the government deciding on these funding cuts? This is what I would see as the ‘wider issue of defending education’ – in which case I would not have disagreed with this action but instead would have actively supported it.

  26. Gravatar Wavid says:

    The localised fight was for those members who were being bullied into accpeting ‘voluntary’ redundancy or the humiliation of the scoring process, appeals and ‘interviews’ for redeployment. For those of us on the picket line, the debate for the fight against cuts in education was not just about THC but for colleges up and down the country. The support received by those members who visited other work places, schools, colleges and other places like the fire stations and postal workers shows how important it was to generalise the debate away from just issues being faced within THC. In terms of enrolment – across the college it is up by over 5% on last year. The AIRTHC campaign, from feedback I received around the borough, was not generally welcomed – so was it really the strike that stopped students enrolling? Besides, the money saved by management in not paying those members of staff on strike could easily pay for ‘cost saving measures’ next year.

  27. Gravatar prisca says:

    you confirm my points quite clearly. On the one hand – the action seemed only concerned with THC specific issues and came across like a personal attack against our principal (chants on the YouTube videos asking for him to resign emphasized that). It was quite clear that those were the only terms under which a decision to return to work was to be decided.
    On the other hand there were banner statements against education cuts which surely are a national issue affecting many other colleges as well as THC.
    I would have thought this action should have been called by the UCU, nation-wide. Redundancies are not only happening at THC but everywhere – so the support you received from other work places only highlights this. Keeping this action solely focused on our college while at the same time pointing towards the root of the problem, the funding cuts affecting so many others, was what I felt was wrong. This action will mainly affect us and our students, while the very same situation is happening elsewhere as well.
    I’m not saying management should not be challenged. In the case of unfair proceedings and the ‘bullying’ you refer to – of course, the union should step in and action is needed. But did this need to be done during such a vital time for recruitment and even affecting the beginning of teaching? And is such a personal and aggressive angle really needed or even appropriate?

    About enrolment – I am not suggesting that the strike alone is to blame for low numbers, merely that I know it did have an effect on our adult courses especially. Whether the marketing campaigns are successful or not is something which needs constant reassessment and improvement as times and the personal aims of our students change. So it might be that the latest marketing angle was not as successful as planned, I would not know for sure.
    And though numbers overall might look ok – I know that for our department this is not the case. Quite a few of our courses are low in numbers so far (adult courses might be affected differently to the 6th form courses overall) and unless recruitment over the next few weeks picks up we stand to lose courses and jobs. Please don’t think I blame the strike alone for this state of affairs, not at all – I am merely saying the action at such a vital time in the academic year did not improve the situation but rather make it worse.

  28. Gravatar Wavid says:

    I will not take up anymore space with what is essentially a difference of principal between us. On the one hand I joined the vast majority of UCU members who supported collective action to stop compulsory redundancies as I was not prepared to leave so many members of staff isolated, or so many course places cut without a fight. You believe that the action, which ultimately reduced the number of staff redundancies, saved course places, amazingly found other sources of funding and save courses and jobs that we were told were not possible was done at the wrong time over the wrong issue. One observation is that over the last five years, the time we as a college have gone from being outstanding to satisfactory the only part of THC that has changed is senior anagement. Five principals in five years. On the eve of bad news and the inspired ‘Securing the Future’ document sent out by our principal, a wave of senior managers hand in their notices! I dont have to be too clever to see that what has affected the college is the revolving door that we have in SMT. I would expect a principal to have many years experience of teaching to understand the issues involved here. When MF was asked by young mayors and studnet representatives if he had a teaching qualification he became very aggressive, thunbing the table repeatedly and the young people who went to see him to put the students point of view found themselves feeling threatened. If I had been told I was not a good enough teacher after 10 years of service with good pass rates and no other indication that there was issues with my teaching other than a poor manager who used inaccurate information to score my performance and place me at the bottom of the pile and therefore lined up for redundancy, somehow I think I may want the person responsible for that to be sacked.

  29. Gravatar prisca says:

    I can see your points and do agree with a lot of the reasons for action – but as you said – we seem to disagree on certain principles.
    But I would like to thank you for your thoughts and comments – I do both welcome and appreciate an open debate, to reconsider my own opinion as well as think about the different opinions of others like yourself.

  30. Gravatar prisca says:

    to those thinking I initiated the TES article – just to clarify:

    I did not “launch an attack”, I was contacted by one of the TES editors and asked to submit a condensed version of this blog post, as a personal opinion piece. At the time – there was no end to the strike in sight. Shunned by a number of union members for disagreeing – I chose to submit the article.

    (I am posting this on my own blog as I have been told in no uncertain terms that my views and comments are not welcome on the UCU THC googlegroup)

  31. Gravatar monica says:


    I had by accident came accross with this article and I have to say it is very sad and annoying to hear that this is what you and your colleagues have been through. I think the department of creative arts is great and from what you said you and your colleagues made a perfect team together. I think that you are a treasure for the college:) and they should fight more for keeping the courses and protest for this cause.
    But don’t worry, it is always a way to get where you want,especially that we learn this in web design.
    I always advertise the course wherever I go and people are amazed of what and how much you can create in only 1 year. I am confident that next year you will have the class full again and maybe the same chemistry as we all have this year:) hehe
    When I will be successful I will take you on my side and we will teach the world web design :)

  32. Gravatar prisca says:

    Monica :) thanks for your comment, that is so nice ;)
    Well, this all happened 2 years ago by now – and sadly things are just getting worse now. I feel very lucky to have such a nice class in all of you this year :) so yes, fingers crossed that I get lucky again ;)

    Thanks again, Monica, for your lovely comment :)

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