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Strike action over college cuts

PUBLISHED: 11:34 06 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:53 25 August 2010

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TEACHERS, students and union members have taken part in a one-day strike in protest against cuts in educational funding.

TEACHERS, students and union members have taken part in a one-day strike in protest against cuts in educational funding.

A picket line was formed outside Greenwich Community College yesterday by members of the University College Union (UCU) and students.

As a result of the funding cuts, the college, in Woolwich Road, has proposed to axe access courses, which enable mature students to get into university, modern language courses, literacy and numeracy classes, and its crèche.

Meridian Music Centre, based in Woolwich Road, and part of the college, is due to find out if it will remain open next Monday.

Lecturer and special needs lecturer at the college, UCU branch committee member Lynne Chamberlain, said: "It's awful, people will loose their jobs and classes.

"People are being thrown out of their jobs because of the economic crises. We think its crazy to axe these courses when people come to us to learn, they see us as a lifeline.

UCU members staged strikes across London, claiming that they face funding cuts of nearly £1 billion, whilst the further education sector has to make savings of £340 million in the next academic year.

The group outside Greenwich Community College waved placards declaring "Defend jobs. Defend education. No cuts," then marched to Woolwich town hall.

Hannah Perry, 24, from Deptford, studied an access course at the college which has enabled her to gain a place at University College London.

She said: "I wouldn't have been able to get into university if I hadn't done this course. I came here because it offers partnerships with universities.

"For lots of people on my course, people wouldn't have the option of going to another college."

The funding cuts have forced the college to announce the closure of its crèche in September.

A crèche worker, who did not want to be named, said: "If the mums can't bring their children here it will mean the mums will have to abandon their classes.

"It's not only the parents that will suffer, it's the kids as well because they may not be able to get the development skills they learn when surrounded by other kids and they could be isolated."

Grace Masemble, a 39-year-old mother from Thamesmead, is enrolled on a sugar craft course and uses the crèche for her daughter whilst she studies.

She said: "I want to be able to study but when they close the crèche I'll have to look after my daughter because I can't afford child care costs.

"It will be the end of my ambitions. The crèche is so convenient when I study because I live so close and they don't do this course everywhere."

A spokesperson for the Department of Business Innovation and Skills said the department had no comment to make.

reena.kumar@archant.co.uk

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