Please see below the latest updates from Forth Valley College's Futures Programme.
23 June 2021
Media statement issued from FVC.
Dr Ken Thomson OBE, Principal for Forth Valley College, said:
“Following the joint referral to the NJNC Joint Secretaries, we can confirm that the dispute between college management and EIS-FELA Branch in regards to the role of Instructor Assessor has now been resolved, pending a consultative ballot. College management have removed the Instructor Assessor post from the College structure and all Instructor Assessors will be given the opportunity to transfer to lecturing roles.
“FVC management & EIS-FELA Branch are committed to moving forward after this challenging period and working together to ensure success for all our students.”
30 April 2021
Media statement issued from FVC.
Dr Ken Thomson OBE, Principal of Forth Valley College, said: “Forth Valley College welcomes the news that Colleges Scotland Employers’ Association and EIS-FELA National have reached a resolution to their dispute and that EIS-FELA National have provided a commitment to end national strike action.
“This agreement has resulted in a national role profile for lecturers with defined professional responsibilities and this will now apply to Lecturers at Forth Valley College, along with all other Scottish colleges. This has been long overdue and a positive outcome for the sector.
“However, despite the conclusion of the national dispute, we are deeply disappointed and frustrated that the dispute between Forth Valley College and EIS-FELA Forth Valley continues.
“At a time where management and lecturing staff across the further education sector have reached a compromise and are getting on with the business of supporting our students through their courses, strike action will, unfortunately, continue across our campuses next week.
“The basis for this ongoing local dispute is the introduction of Instructor Assessor posts at Forth Valley College last January. We are very keen to secure a positive outcome and we are currently undertaking a full and detailed review of the Instructor Assessor role at the College against the nationally agreed lecturer role profile.
“This review will be led by a senior academic manager, working independently. Now we have national recognition of the role of a Lecturer, the objective of the review is to determine whether or not there are clear differences between the Instructor Assessor role and the Lecturer role. Evidence which will be used to assist the review includes the previously mentioned nationally agreed lecturer role profile, existing job descriptions and National Circular 01/18.
“If EIS-FELA Forth Valley reject the outcomes of the review and there is no local resolution, then the matter will be referred to the Joint Secretaries of both parties. The College is fully committed to this process.
“Our main concerns are with our students at this critical time of their studies and we had hoped that local branch industrial action would be suspended at least until the review had been completed, but sadly it was not to be. However, we will abide by the outcome of the review and look forward to this issue being resolved and a return to what Forth Valley College is recognised best for across the whole of the UK – Making Learning Work.”
The number of staff taking part in strike action this week out of 300 academic staff are: 73 members of staff (24.3%) took part in action on Tuesday 27 April; 69 members of staff (23%) on Wednesday 28 April; and 72 (24%) on Thursday 29 April. The next planned days of action are Wednesday 5 May & Thursday 6 May 2021 and these are expected to go ahead.
28 April 2021
Media statement issued in response to national agreement between Colleges Scotland Employers' Association and EIS-FELA National.
Dr Ken Thomson OBE, Principal of Forth Valley College, said: “We welcome the news that Colleges Scotland Employers’ Association and EIS-FELA National have ratified a resolution to their dispute and that EIS-FELA National have provided a commitment to end national strike action.
“We also continue to have positive discussions with EIS-FELA Forth Valley in regards to the ongoing local dispute and we are hopeful of a resolution soon. Our focus is very much on ensuring our students can achieve their qualifications and progress to their next steps.”
12 April 2021
Media statement issued in response to further queries in regards to the introduction of the Instructor Assessor post.
Dr Ken Thomson OBE, Principal of Forth Valley College, said: “Both EIS-FELA Local and EIS FELA National are currently engaging in industrial action in relation to Instructor Assessor roles within colleges.
“The Instructor Assessor role was introduced to Forth Valley College in 2020 and is comparable to similar posts within the college sector that have been in place since the mid-1990s. The College recognised the benefits that this role could have for the learner experience and introduced it after a thorough review and lengthy consultation with staff and Trade Unions.
“Following the College’s consultation process, all those impacted were either successful in their application to the voluntary severance scheme or received an offer of employment for either a Lecturer or Instructor Assessor post. Those who transitioned to an Instructor Assessor post have their salary conserved for four years.
“At national level, an agreement on a new role profile for a Lecturer is yet to be ratified but management at Forth Valley College have committed to undertake a review of the Instructor Assessor post following ratification. In order to ensure this is done fairly, management will appoint an experience senior manager with extensive curriculum knowledge. Results will be transparent and we will consult with our Trade Union colleagues. However, we strongly feel that that involvement of a third party who are focused on the removal of the post would impact on the objectivity of the review. We have a duty to our students, staff and stakeholders to act in their best interests.
“We do recognise that any change can be difficult for staff and we have offered support throughout this process. Our staff are at the heart of the organisation and we also recognise the contribution of all members of staff in a wide variety of roles. An Instructor Assessor is valued as much as any other role within the College.
“In regards to contact time, a lecturing role has 23 hours contact time and an Instructor Assessor averages 25 hours. There are different demands, requirements and responsibilities for Instructor Assessors in comparison to Lecturers and this has been recognised. Furthermore, whilst the role is not new for the sector, it is new for Forth Valley College and adjustments are being made as the role develops and embeds. We have also committed to providing formal development opportunities for those who transitioned into an Instructor Assessor role, which will be tailored to their own needs and future career aspirations.
“We have always been considerate of the impact that change can have, and significant thought has gone into the introduction of the Instructor Assessor post. In order to meet our learner needs, we must have a flexible and responsive structure. This new role brings real value to the student experience and will maintain our strong focus on vocational learning and training.
“As we emerge from a pandemic and move forward in a changing society, we must work together to help secure a future for our students and help them achieve the success they deserve.”
27 January 2021
Media statement issued in regards to discussions between Forth Valley College and EIS FELA concluding with a failure to agree.
Kenny MacInnes, Forth Valley College, Vice Principal, said: “Forth Valley College continues to be in dispute with EIS FELA local branch in relation to a consultation process that saw the introduction of Instructor Assessor posts last January.
“Whilst college management have been clear that the process is now complete and no more staff are at risk, we know staff have sought further reassurance. To give this reassurance, a commitment has been made to all Lecturers from the Principal, which has been sent by post. This ensures that while they are lecturers at Forth Valley College, there is no plan, either now or into the future, to make their post redundant and replace it with an Instructor Assessor role.
“We have continued to remain hopeful that we could conclude the dispute and we went into a meeting with EIS FELA on Wednesday 20 January 2021 with a positive mind-set. Over the Christmas holiday and outwith any discussion with EIS FELA, we had already agreed to provide the clear commitment of assurance from management to Lecturers, and a separate letter has also been sent to those Instructor Assessors on conserved salaries, detailing our support and commitment to them going forward.
“We hoped that EIS FELA shared our enthusiasm and hope in finding a solution. However, during the meeting we were sent information from EIS headquarters to state EIS FELA had initiated the first step towards full strike action. This clearly demonstrated a lack of desire to take forward any negotiation.
“The College has been clear in our position of not removing the role, which has been operating successfully since August 2020, and we have negotiated by offering realistic and fair solutions along with our letters of personal guarantee and assurance to give the strongest pledges to our staff.
“In doing this the College feels strongly that we have been listening and engaging with EIS-FELA throughout the consultation and dispute. However, the College now needs to see movement from EIS-FELA on the acceptance of the role before we return to the table to discuss the dispute. To date this has not been the case, therefore, management have now concluded discussions with a failure to agree.
“This is most disappointing but does not change the commitment made to staff in the letters sent. Whilst this news may bring mixed feelings for staff, we hope that they understand the openness of our communications. We have offered support to all relevant staff on this matter.”
10 November 2020
Media statement issued in response to an EIS Press Release about action short of strike action commencing this week.
Dr Ken Thomson OBE, Principal for Forth Valley College, said: “We are extremely disappointed that some EIS members have commenced action short of strike action today. This is despite just over 50% members voting to carry it forward. The proposed actions have the potential to have a serious detrimental effect for our students in progressing their qualifications and their future opportunities. These are students who are already facing challenges due to the ongoing pandemic. Our focus just now should be on supporting them not putting their future plans at any further risk.
“The expertise and professional standards of our lecturing staff has never been in question. We have fully consulted with staff throughout this process and have full support from our Board of Management. The introduction of the Instructor Assessor role has strengthened our delivery model and aligns it to industry standards. This was in direct response to the needs of employers, in order to help deliver the skills and training that they need for their future workforce. The post is already bringing real value to the student experience and will maintain our strong focus on vocational learning and training.
“We are also becoming increasingly frustrated by EIS-FELA’s disregard for other staff working within the college. EIS-FELA’s reference to colleagues they work with as ‘just support staff’ is both dismissive and disrespectful. Our support staff are just as critical to the success of the organisation and they are highly valued. It is the commitment and dedication of all staff – both teaching and support staff – that contributes to the best possible learning experiences for our students. It takes a wide range of roles, skills and abilities to help a college operate and we recognise these attributes in all our staff. All roles have an important role to play as we move forward.
“The new Instructor Assessor post is now established at the College - and other colleges throughout the country - and we are confident it will strengthen our delivery model and enhance learning and teaching. Our students have been at the heart of any decisions we have made and we strongly believe this is the right approach to support their futures.”
28 October 2020
Forth Valley College has had a constructive meeting with EIS FELA today (28 October) following an announcement that the union’s recent ballot for action short of strike action had been carried.
The ballot was in response to a new Instructor Assessor role which was introduced as part of the College’s Futures Programme.
Following on from the meeting, Dr Ken Thomson OBE, Principal of Forth Valley College said:
“We are pleased to have had constructive dialogue with union representatives today as we try to find a resolution to the current dispute.
“We have put forward a number of points for consideration, which EIS FELA will now take back to their members before a further meeting which is planned for Wednesday 9 November 2020.
“In the best interests of our students, we sincerely hope the response is positive. Any action short of strike action will have a serious impact on our students, who are already facing challenges due to the ongoing pandemic. We can’t stress enough how important it is that we work together to ensure that we can support our students and help them to achieve their qualifications.
“We need to move forward and accept this role is now a critical part of our core delivery. The role will greatly enhance the learner experience at the college and align delivery to the needs of their future employers.”
27 October 2020
Forth Valley College has been informed that a recent ballot for action short of strike action by EIS-FELA has been carried, with just over 50% members voting.
The ballot was in response to a new Instructor Assessor role which was introduced as part of the College’s Futures Programme.
In response to the result of the ballot, Dr Ken Thomson OBE, Principal of Forth Valley College said:
“We are deeply disappointed that some EIS FELA members are planning to take action short of strike action. This is despite only having 42% agreement with the overall EIS membership at the College.
“The proposed actions will have a serious detrimental effect for our students in progressing their qualifications and their future opportunities. These are students who are already facing challenges due to the ongoing pandemic. Our focus just now should be on supporting them not putting their future plans at any further risk.
“We have fully consulted with staff throughout this process and have full support from our Board of Management. Any decisions we have taken have been made to enhance the learning experience for our students. This is about improving the quality of learning and teaching and bringing it in line with the needs of industry and employers and our proven successful vocational model. As an organisation, we must be flexible and responsive to these needs and evolve.
“The new Instructor Assessor role is now established at the College - and other colleges throughout the country - and we are confident it will strengthen our delivery model and benefit our students. We are disappointed that our EIS Representatives are saying to their EIS members that this is only the first of many changes to lecturers’ posts. We have made our position clear, there are no plans to make any further structural changes and we must move on collectively in the best interests of our students.
“In light of the proposed action by some staff, our focus now is on putting plans in place to support our students and trying to minimise the impact on them.”
30 September 2020
Forth Valley College is seriously concerned that there will be a significant impact on learners following a decision by EIS-FELA to hold a statutory ballot on industrial action in response to the introduction of a new Instructor Assessor role.
The new role was introduced as part of the College’s Futures Programme which aims to ensure the College can deliver on their 2030 vision and the changing landscape of education and training, particularly in relation to workplace delivery. Over the next three years, the Futures Programme will ensure the organisation is fit-for-purpose, sustainable and can meet the needs of the next generation of learners and their employers.
A joint consultation was launched in February this year and the new role was introduced to align with the College’s very successful vocational delivery model.
The consultation concluded in July with all posts at risk being successful in their application for the Voluntary Severance Scheme or having been given an offer of employment.
The new Instructor Assessor role will help the College to align with the delivery model of industry by combining the roles of a qualified competent industry professional and the assessor to deliver the best possible learning experiences for students.
The post will ensure that students achieve the correct levels of competency, skills and knowledge transfer required to meet the assessment criteria for vocational qualifications. Training will be provided to those who do not have the relevant assessor/verifier qualifications.
The Instructor Assessor role is competitive with a salary of between £33,317 to £35,839 depending on experience, 45 days of annual leave, a comprehensive pension scheme, as well as free gym membership and access to various generous staff benefit schemes.
Additionally, any Lecturer transitioning to the new post of Instructor Assessor will benefit from having their current salary conserved for four years. Those at the top of their scale will be on a salary of £41,526 per annum.
Throughout the consultation period, the Senior Management Team have engaged actively with Trade Union representatives and staff.
The EIS ballot asks their members if they are prepared to take industrial action in order to overturn the introduction of the Instructor Assessor role, to revert all the new posts to lecturer posts and for the College to agree that they will not use the role of Instructor Assessor in the future.
Dr Ken Thomson OBE, Principal for Forth Valley College, said:
“The Instructor Assessor is a role which is now established at Forth Valley College. There is no going back and we must move on.
“The action by EIS is hugely disappointing and I want to be clear that any future strike action will have major implications for the College and our students. This attack on learners by the EIS following a difficult period in education is not something that Forth Valley College can endorse or accept as reasonable. We are already facing huge challenges in light of significant financial pressures and economic uncertainty due to COVID-19.
“Financial stability, whilst improving learner experiences, is at the heart of the decision making process for the college. However the narrow focus that has led to this threat is one that we will do our best to overcome. We wish to assure all our learners that we will endeavour to maintain our services and continue to provide the high quality delivery that they have come to expect.
“The Instructor Assessor role has been introduced to strengthen our delivery model and align to industry standards. We must be responsive to needs of employers and deliver the skills and training that they need for their future workforce. This new role brings real value to the student experience and will maintain our strong focus on vocational learning and training.
“From the beginning of the consultation, our goal was always to retain as many staff as possible and we were pleased when all those at risk were either accepted for our Voluntary Severance Scheme or were guaranteed an offer of employment. I would stress that there were jobs available for all those at risk. We understand that change can be challenging at any time, however, we have been committed to managing this process with staff and have been doing everything we can to support them throughout.
“Now more than ever, is the time for all staff to come together in a collective effort, to support each other, our students, our local communities and the economic recovery.”
31 August 2020
The Instructor Assessor role was introduced when a consultation on the reform of teaching and administration functions began in February 2020. This was actioned to ensure Forth Valley College maintains sustainability for the future and to secure continued employment for existing staff. The College is confident that the role of Instructor Assessor will enhance the development and delivery of training and education, and provide opportunities for growth.
Throughout the consultation period management have engaged actively with TU representatives and staff. It is understandable that this process would be a stressful one and communications were vital. When asked, clarity on rationale was given; as was agreement to the request to delay individual consultation meetings to allow them to occur face to face; and a guarantee was given of the offer of a role, with pay conservation, for all staff involved.
Discussion has taken place with TU representatives and agreement was reached that this is a local consultation process and not linked in any way to the national agenda. The College has over 150 roles and has successfully introduced over 15 new roles within the past two years, which is to be expected of any organisation working in a dynamic environment and maintaining a workforce of the future. Rightly, questions have been asked as to the benefits of the Instructor Assessor role. These have been fully discussed with TU representatives and communicated to those staff who found themselves at risk.
Through acceptance of voluntary severance, redeployment opportunities and through innovative solutions, often presented by staff themselves, the number of staff who remained at risk dropped dramatically throughout the process.
When the formal period of joint consultation ended, discussions continued with both Management and TU representatives. The consultation process is now concluded. Those remaining staff awaiting outcomes will be informed of their options. Additionally, any Instructor Assessor post not allocated during the consultation process due to e.g. acceptance of voluntary severance, will be advertised as normal.
Voluntary severance was reopened and ring fenced to those who remain at risk. The option of voluntary severance will remain open during the 4 week trial period for those who move into the new role.
Forth Valley College is acutely aware of the challenges associated with this process and the additional anxieties we all face as a result of COVID-19. However, the College will continue to work with and support staff still part of the process.
18 June 2020
Forth Valley College has responded following a second online protest held by the Educational Institute of Scotland’s Further Education Lecturers’ Association (EIS-FELA) this week.
EIS-FELA has raised concerns over an ongoing consultation process which launched in November 2019 as part of Forth Valley College’s Futures Programme.
The Futures Programme aims to ensure the College can deliver on their 2030 vision and the changing landscape of education and training. Over the next three years, it will ensure the organisation is fit-for-purpose, sustainable and can meet the needs of the next generation of learners and their employers.
The first phase was to review the teaching and administration functions with joint consultation commencing in February this year.
The consultation involved around 67 members of staff, around 10% of the College’s workforce.
All posts at risk have either been successful in their applications for a Voluntary Severance Scheme or are guaranteed an offer of employment.
As part of the consultation, a new Instructor Assessor post has been introduced aligning with the College’s very successful vocational delivery model. Any Lecturer transitioning to this new post will have salary conservation for four years.
Many staff involved in the consultation have already secured a post however others have been given the option to delay their individual consultation whilst the College's campuses remain closed due to the COVID-19 crisis.
A spokesperson for Forth Valley College said:
“We have been in discussion on this matter with EIS colleagues since the consultation was announced last November and we appreciate their continued need to protect the interests of their members; however our Board of Management and Senior Management Team have a duty to protect the long-term future of the College and a responsibility to provide our learners with access to education and training aligned to the needs of their future employers.
“We strongly believe that this is the right approach to ensure a sustainable future for the college and we are confident that the Instructor Assessor role will bring real added value to the student learning experience.
“We do however understand that change can be challenging at any time, particularly in these unprecedented circumstances that we now find ourselves in due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are therefore doing everything we can to support staff throughout this period and are taking into account their individual circumstances and preferences in regards to individual consultations. We have also been open and transparent throughout the consultation providing regular updates and reasons and justification behind any decisions we have taken.
“Now more than ever, it is vital that the College management team and Trade Union’s current focus should be centred on the safe re-opening of our campuses. This will ensure we continue to deliver the best possible learning experiences for our students and support the country’s recovery. We have had excellent support from our union colleagues throughout the current crisis and we hope we can continue with this as we move forward.”
10 June 2020
As part of Phase 1 of Forth Valley College's Futures Programme, the organisation's administration structure was reviewed to ensure it was sustainable, fit-for-purpose and would support the 2030 vision.
All administration posts at risk during the recent consultation process have now secured a post following individual consultations.
Any post moves are effective from 1 August 2020.
Other posts have been given the option to delay their individual consultation whilst the College's campuses remain closed due to the COVID-19 crisis and the consultation process is ongoing.
20 April 2020
Forth Valley College has confirmed that all those at risk during the ongoing consultation process will receive an offer of employment.
The consultation process, which commenced in November 2019, impacted on 67 members of staff, around 10% of the College’s workforce.
All posts at risk have either been successful in their application for the Voluntary Severance Scheme or will be offered either a Lecturer post or the new Instructor Assessor post with salary conservation for four years.
The next step is to invite staff to have a face-to-face discussion with their line manager or nominee at a convenient time. Many of these meetings are likely to be delayed due to the current college campus closure, however, staff will also be offered the opportunity to carry these out via Skype – if this is their preference.
These individual meetings will allow staff to have detailed discussions about the opportunities available and to ask questions and put forward suggestions.
The College’s management team continues to engage with both EIS FELA and
Unison local branches.
A spokesperson for Forth Valley College, said:
“From the beginning of the consultation process, we have always aimed to retain as many staff as possible and we recently confirmed that all posts at risk have either been successful in their application for the Voluntary Severance Scheme or will be offered either a Lecturer post or the new Instructor Assessor post with conserved salary for four years.
“With the conclusion of joint consultation, the next stage is individual consultation. As the College is now closed as a result of the coronavirus situation, staff involved in the process will be contacted at an appropriate time that suits the individual to arrange a face-to-face discussion with their manager or nominee. These meetings are likely to be delayed due to college closure and there is no requirement for them to be carried out whilst our buildings remain closed. However some staff have indicated that, given we are all still working virtually, they would like their meeting to take place sooner and therefore there will be the option for the meetings to take place via Skype. We would stress that this type of meeting would only take place if the member of staff requested this.
“We understand that change can be challenging at any time, but particularly in these unprecedented circumstances that we now find ourselves in. For some, now is not the time to have these meetings and we understand this and will arrange a time that is convenient. However, others may find a delay in the process causes additional pressures and added uncertainty.
“We are committed to managing this process with staff, taking into account their individual circumstances and preferences, and will do everything we can to support them throughout this period.
“There have also been questions around why we are introducing this new role and the reason is to ensure we develop a workforce for the future and evolve to meet the changing needs of learners, employers and our communities.
“As a college, we have a strong focus on vocational learning and training and this new post will enhance this. A significant proportion of vocational qualifications in Scotland are currently delivered in the workplace by highly skilled competent industry professionals and qualified assessors. These are not lecturers but trained industry professionals, with the correct industry qualifications, who ensure learners achieve the correct levels of competency, skills and knowledge transfer required to meet the assessment criteria for vocational qualifications.
“This new post will help us to align with this delivery model of industry for our in-college vocational curriculum and for vocational elements contained within Higher National Qualifications. It will combine the roles of the qualified competent industry professional and the assessor to deliver the best possible vocational learning experiences for our students.
“As part of our robust recruitment processes, the qualifications, experience and skills required for the new role have been carefully considered. Training will be offered to those who do not have the relevant assessor/verifier qualifications in line with our current procedures and we will do all we can to support them in their new role.
“The expertise and professional standards of our lecturing staff is not in question, however, it is the combined professionalism and dedication of colleagues in a variety of roles, who will continue to drive forward the success of the College and ensure we are delivering the education and training which will deliver the skills needed by our learners and their future employers.”
Page updated on Wednesday 10 June 2020.