Brake Stands Shoulder to Shoulder With College Protesters

July 7, 2009 2:57 PM

As part of an ongoing saga, students and staff met with local MP Tom Brake outside Carshalton College, to protest at the College's decision to terminate the school's Performing Arts programme.

The move will, amongst other cutbacks, see the forced redundancy of five staff members. Yet it comes a mere five months after the college signed up to provide training and support to those made redundant in the economic downturn.

"It's absurd," said one local resident, "they've committed themselves to helping people find jobs, and at the same time they're firing their own staff."

The Sutton Guardian reported last week that despite the apparent need to tighten belts, the College's Principal saw a comfortable rise in his wage over two years.

Repeated calls have been made to share out salary increases among staff, giving everyone a £300 wage rise and saving the college a possible £100,000. The Association of Colleges has repeatedly quashed such shared rises, stating the need for local autonomy.

The Performing Arts Programme, which according to insiders currently runs at a 38% profit, caters for more than fifty students and also provides income for the nearby Charles Cryer Theatre. The theatre, well known for hosting many of the college's productions, is concerned about the loss of future revenue.

In the wake of the protest, the college has agreed to allow students completing the first year of Performing Arts to continue to the second. Yet pupils sitting preparatory studies, who had been told they could transfer to Performing Arts course after passing, now face being left out in the cold.

Mr. Brake joined protesters to discuss the planned closure: "It is unfortunate that students wishing to transfer into the course will be denied this chance, after working so hard to get here. The college needs to provide a solution for these pupils as well."

In spite of plans to scrap the Performing Arts course, the college's planned construction of two new dance studios is going ahead.

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