Reports presented to SMT


UCU branch report on Hourly Paid Lecturers

23 February 2012

Use of the VT contract (Zero hour variable contract)

It appears that the VT contract is used for various staffing purposes:

  1. Long term sickness cover
  2. Maternity leave cover
  3. Day to day sickness cover
  4. To respond to fluctuating student numbers – ie: under-recruitment in Sept resulting in course closure or new mid-year courses because of student recruitment drives
  5. To staff courses which may start mid-year as a result of unexpected extra funding
  6. To staff a proportion of the long-term, core courses in the college – courses which are subject to the same funding as those taught by Main Grade Staff

Group f:  There is a group of staff who fall into category f with the following characteristics:

  • Long-term, substantive teaching.  Examples:  NG, Arts and Media 17hrs per week, 7 continuous years’ service.  NR, ESOL, 19 hrs per week, 12 continuous years’ service.
  • Long-term work patterns show very little variation – ie:  allocated same courses year after year
  • Carrying out exactly or broadly similar work duties to their Main Grade Staff colleagues

There is a tendency for staff recruited for reasons a-e to fall into category f after a few years.

The use of zero hour contracts appears to vary between departments, ie: Arts and Media seem to have a high proportion of HPL staff.

Outcomes of the use of Zero Hour contracts for group f

  1. Differentials in pay and pension contributions.   HPLs earn 15-40% less than their similarly experienced and qualified Main Grade Staff colleagues.
  2. Staff on zero hour contracts inevitably mitigate the redundancies of Main Grade Staff
  3. Lack of clarity over where and when to apply the redundancy clause in the VT contract.  This can result in staff losing entire salary after many years of service without timely redundancy compensation.


  • Introduce a minimum threshold clause into the VT contract, thereby changing its operation from a zero-hour contract to a variable hour contract.
  • Clarify the interpretation of the redundancy clause in the VT contract.  Reach an agreement about how it should be implemented.
  • Carry out annual reviews of individuals on VT contracts:  is their work likely to continue?  If so, they should be considered for fractionalisation.


  • Equity – parity amongst staff
  • To minimise the risk to the college of individuals taking various claims to Tribunal (especially under the Fixed Term legislation).
  •  To retain highly qualified and experienced staff


The case for fractionalisation of hourly paid tutors (ACE)

Presentation to SMT, 22 May 2012


All ACE tutors are currently on hourly paid contracts at a rate of £28 per hour. This will rise to £30 per hour for 2012-13. Most tutors are paid after completing timesheets. In the case of ESOL, tutors are paid on a monthly basis (without timesheets) for their contact hours plus 10% for specific and previously agreed additional activities such as attending meetings and forums, maintaining relationships with centres and schools and travelling from centre to centre. Their contracts are fixed term and issued on an annual basis.

The unstable and unfair conditions under which hourly paid staff are employed has been raised as an issue by hourly paid staff, particularly in ESOL. It was an area for improvement noted in both the 2011-12 ESOL SAR and the ESOL position statement for the recent Ofsted inspection. The ending of casual contracts is an issue being campaigned for on a national level by the UCU, the trade union to which many ACE staff and tutors belong. As the UCU campaign materials state, casualisation brings with it ‘inefficiency, inequality and personal stress’.

In February 2012, a working group was set up to carry out some research into fractionalisation and prepare a case. This research included: conversations with tutors and managers at other institutions and in neighbouring boroughs, checking contracts and job descriptions for fractionalised tutors working in neighbouring boroughs, looking at the work UCU have done on this issue (including on the legal position), gathering information from HR and sending out a survey to UCU members in ACE working on hourly paid contracts and analysing the results.

Fractionalisation is better for the service

Maintaining and improving quality: After a successful Ofsted inspection, in which teaching was consistently highlighted as an area of good practice, it is essential to retain the quality of the team in order to maintain the high quality of provision and further improve it.   Evidence from OTL reports as well as  learners’ feedback and success rates shows that the quality of direct teach is better than the commissioned provision.  We would like to be able to use the experience and skills of the direct teach team to support quality improvement in the commissioned provision.

The direct teach team is highly qualified and experienced, with all tutors holding or working towards a full teaching qualification. Those working towards a qualification have undertaken this study in their own (unpaid) time, with limited financial support for fees from the department.

Capacity to improve the service: Our capacity to improve the service depends on retaining a high quality team of staff. At the moment only specific and previously agreed extra curricula time is included in the hourly rate, i.e. team meetings and forums, travel time and maintaining relationships with centres/schools. Any additional responsibility and task is subject to additional funds being available.

Improved retention of staff: The threat of staff leaving in order to work on better contracts, whether in adult learning or FE provision is a very real one.

The cost of recruiting new staff is very high. HR recently estimated the cost of recruiting a new tutor at around £6,000.

Fractionalisation gives a fairer deal for staff

Hourly rate contracts, which mean that tutors are only paid according to the contact hours with learners, do not recognise in its entirety the academic and pastoral roles that tutors fulfil. On an academic side, tutors are required to carry out their own research and attain CPD with only limited support from the organisation as they are required to do that in their own time, outside of working hours. The role of the teacher does not end there but extends to someone who seeks to further the personal development of students as well as their academic learning, to support students as persons as well as learners. Teaching is about working with people, gaining their confidence, trust and collaboration for the task of learning, and is not simply about the delivery of a curriculum. All of these more ‘subtle’ tasks are not easily quantifiable but for that not less important. Ofsted recently praised the team for the motivation tutors transmit to learners and the outstanding support they provide (for instance, learners being prepared and referred on to a work placement in a children’s centre).

The increased professionalisation of the sector has had a significant impact on quality, and yet the rates of pay do not reflect the role of tutors as professionals and the need for them to have job security. Working conditions under a sessional tutors’ contract means that all the work mentioned above is expected from the tutor but unaccounted for. Under such contracts, staff are also under constant stress of hours being reduced, which would then impact on their mortgages, aspirations and general well-being.

To demonstrate to what extent tutors’ jobs stretch outside of contact hours, the ESOL team was asked to log hours of work beyond the paid contact time. The full analysis is available and  a snapshot is outlined here:

Teaching 4 hours, travelled 40 minutes between sites. 20 minutes discussion with learners about progression and for additional feedback after class time. 15 minutes to produce a letter for a learner for the Job Centre. 35 minutes to travel to the Learning Trust. 1 hour 50 minutes preparation for classes tomorrow. 10 minutes checking and responding to emails. 10 minutes talking to Curriculum Manager about a learner who needs to transfer, and phoning the learner. 30 minutes marking learner work. 15 minutes to photocopy ILP evidence.

8 hours 45 minutes

Hourly rate (£28 + 10%) £30.80 x 4 hours = £123.20

This makes an hourly rate of just £14 per hour, which is less than half of what they receive.

Fractionalisation would bring us in line with neighbouring local authorities

  • Neighbouring borough 1:  All lecturers are on fractional contracts (hourly pay is only applied to additional small amounts of work above contract).
  • Lecturers are on scale point 1-8 of their pay scale, which ranges from £19,267 (unqualified) – £26,888 (qualified and experienced).
  • Lecturers with additional responsibilities (which include assessing, internal verification, supporting quality improvement as well as full teaching duties) are on scale point 9-14 of their pay scale, which ranges from £27,979 – £33,414 depending on experience.
  • Terms and conditions are as follows:
  • Hours worked per week: 35
  • Number of teaching weeks: 36
  • Holiday per annum: 10 weeks
  • Maximum teaching hours: 22 hours a week

Neighbouring borough 2:

There are currently four full-time (1) and two fractional staff (0.5) in ESOL department. There are ten hourly paid lecturers. The trend in recent years has been towards more full-time and fractional staff in order to drive up quality and have a more stable workforce.

  • Lecturers are on scale point 10-14 of their pay scale, which ranges from £25,544 – £29,336.
  • Lead teachers (who have additional responsibilities such as mentoring new staff, delivering CPD, doing internal verification) get paid up to £32,000.
  • Terms and conditions are as follows:
  • Hours worked per week: 35
  • Number of teaching weeks: 37
  • Holiday per annum: 11 weeks
  • Maximum teaching hours: 21 hours a week (23 total contact hours). NB: in practice no one teaches more than 20 hours a week.

Other teachers working for employer: The Learning Trust publishes annually rates of pay for teaching staff in schools/ children’s centres. For qualified teachers on the main scale (spine points 1-6), the pay ranges from £27,000 to £36,387.

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