Election Address

             Seat on UCU NEC: London and the East FE

 Currently employed as an ESOL teacher at Lambeth College, where I have taught ESOL and Numeracy to young people and adults for the last 8 years, working as both an hourly paid and permanent lecturer.
At Lambeth College I have held joint Branch Secretary position since 2010 and been on UCU branch committee since 2008.

I attended UCU Congress as a delegate in 2011, I’ve been on London Region Executive Committee since 2011 and am a member of UCU Left.

Election Address

 UCU members are currently under huge pressure from all sides. Workload continues to increase with more forceful tactics being used against already over-worked staff to work even more, for less. Cuts to education funding mean more courses being closed and jobs lost. And while the coalition government is attacking pensions and freezing pay, costs of living are also rising.
We must defend jobs, pensions, pay and conditions to secure the future of Adult and Further Education.

As joint Branch Secretary and a representative at London Region, I have played a part in building a strong branch which has collectively resisted compulsory redundancies and worsening terms and conditions, built solid strikes over pensions in June and November, and delivered overwhelming support for the IfL boycott.

Government cuts have a devastating impact on poor and vulnerable community groups. I have been a key organiser in the Action for ESOL campaign, which in August saw a massive government U-turn on plans to change funding eligibility for those on benefits. This would have meant up to 70% of learners, mostly women from black and minority ethnic groups, being unable to afford to learn English to improve their lives.

As a campaigner, I worked alongside students, trade unionists and practitioners to raise awareness at local and national level through speaking about ESOL and multiculturalism at meetings and UCU Congress, letter-writing campaigns and organising protests, which resulted in the partial U-turn success.

If elected as an NEC member I will campaign for:

– workload reduction

– fair working conditions for all staff, including hourly paid

– democratic governance of colleges

– Adult and Further Education to remain free and accessible, especially for those who need a second chance

– an end to marketisation, student fees and loans

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ESOL Protest at Old Palace Yard 24.3.11

March 25th 2011

                                                                                 

500 students and teachers from colleges all over London held a vibrant, noisy protest against cuts to ESOL funding outside Westminster at lunchtime, with massive teach-out, theatre workshops, outdoor games and singing lessons.

Refugees and students gathered round the megaphone to talk about why they need to learn English and how ESOL classes change their lives, before marching together to Downing Street to hand in the Save ESOL petition with 20,000 signatures, including Noam Chomsky, Ken Loach and Ken Livingstone.

The protest continued in the afternoon on the UCU demo from LSE and rally at Downing St. 1000 striking teachers and lecturers listened to speeches defending ESOL and multi-culturalism by Jeremy Corbyn MP, an ESOL teacher and 6 students from Hackney College and many others.

The photos and students’ words showed their determination and the day’s actions showed how ESOL students, teachers and refugee organisations across the country are not going to take this cut without a fight.

by Mandy Brown, London Action for ESOL

ESOL Fest June 19th 2011

June 21st 2011

No Ifs No Buts, No ESOL Cuts! London students say no to cuts to English classes.

Hundreds of students and teachers from local colleges around London defied the downpours on Sunday to take to the streets and protest against cuts to English classes.

In the south, students from South Thames College, Lambeth College, Baytree Centre, Horizon and LAWAS joined lecturers to march through the streets of Brixton and Oval.  Protestors chanted “Save Our ESOL!” as they joined a noisy demonstration by women and children outside the Baytree Centre before heading to a rally in Kennington Park. Dodging the showers throughout the afternoon, protestors gathered round banners from colleges and local community organisations and spoke out about why English classes should not be cut.

One student told how she was now able to go the GP alone and could speak to her doctor without help, thanks to her ESOL course at the Baytree centre for women. A student from South America spoke about the need for communities to unite and fight against this racist policy. Mark Bergfeld of NUS told the crowds “students, immigrants and working class people must unite – it is in everyone’s interest for people to learn English”.

Many thousands of immigrants, refugees and migrant workers will no longer be able to access free language classes from September when the government plans to cut eligibility for people on ‘inactive’ benefits such as Income Support. National and local equality impact assessments show that these changes will impact disproportionately on black and ethnic minority groups, and on women in particular – around 70% of women learners will no longer be able to afford to pay for an ESOL course.

Action for ESOL, the national campaign which was set up in January to fight the new funding policy, says the effect of these divisive measures on the communities of languages without English as a first language will be devastating. In impoverished areas of London boroughs such as Tottenham, Tower Hamlets and Lambeth, where large numbers of the residents do not have English as their first language, these cuts to their basic right to language learning are coming on top of cumulative attacks on benefits and legal aid as well as rising costs. This will mean that more vulnerable people will not be able to lift themselves out of poverty, to find work or better-paid work and will become isolated from the people and services around them.

FE Colleges are also being faced with course closures and redundancies as the cuts hit. College of North East London in Tottenham is losing 71% of its ESOL courses. Croydon College is losing over 50% of its ESOL teachers, and Hackney, Lewisham and City Of Westminster colleges are also set to face massive losses to courses, students and teachers.

Action for ESOL will continue to fight alongside students and teachers to reverse the funding policy and keep English classes free for all those who need it. Campaigners say that everyone has the right to learn the language of the country where they live – not just to find work but as a basic human right.

by Mandy Brown, London Action for ESOL

Brixton Youtube clip via Education Activist Network

Brixton photos:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/phil_b/5849531655

http://yfrog.com/kiymxij

Hackney photos: https://picasaweb.google.com/BriWenRed/Esoljune