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Items filtered by date: June 2022

RuTC celebrate Pride Month 2022

Thursday 30 June 2022

The month of June is globally considered to be Pride Month, a month in which we celebrate and commemorate all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people as well as the history, culture and contributions they have made, along with their communities.

To mark the occasion, RuTC (Richmond upon Thames College) organised a number of activities.

Each week in June, students discussed a Pride related topic in their morning tutorials, the last being ‘Will you see LGBTQ+ discrimination eliminated within your generation?’ which encouraged students to engage in important discussions amongst their peers in a safe and supportive environment.

In addition, RuTC welcomed Metro Charity’s ‘Pride Roadshow’ at the college’s Platinum Jubilee celebration, (8 June) and No Straight Answer (LGBTQ+ support group) based at Heatham House Youth Centre in Twickenham, to speak to students, offer advice and helpful information resources.

Lastly, on 22nd June, the student services team wore a colour each of the 6 colour Pride flag to express RuTC’s solidarity and support of the LGBTQ+ community.

Rachel Scarborough, Director of Student Services at RuTC is happy to celebrate the month-long event, explaining, “Pride is a celebration of a vital piece of Western history. RuTC is proud to stand alongside the LGBTQ+ community, offering support to anyone, staff or student who may need it.

“Pride is a fantastic opportunity for everyone to learn more about the LGBTQ+ community and as proud allies, we encourage everyone to educate themselves on issues facing LGBTQ+ people today.”

Learn more about studying at RuTC here

In May, RuTC (Richmond upon Thames College) Art and Design Level 2 students were commissioned by Oxfam Education and Glastonbury Festival to create a banner for both organisation’s annual campaign art project.

In early June, the students finalised and posted the vast art project they had been working on over the past few weeks, to Glastonbury and during the weekend of 23-26 June, the banners were unveiled at the world-renowned festival.

This year’s campaign theme was “Climate Justice” and RuTC students’ artwork depicted the globe in chains, surrounded by a sea of flames, a mosaic of coloured patches alongside Oxfam and RuTC’s logo.

Altogether, the Art and Design students spent over twelve hours researching the theme, planning and delivering the artwork on a large hessian panel measuring 3.5 meters by 2 meters.

This piece of artwork and the similar ones received from other participating schools and colleges across the country were displayed in public-facing areas at the festival venue in Pilton, Somerset.

The project, under the supervision of RuTC Art and Design Teacher Toby Rye, provided 17 Level 2 students a chance to explore and invigorate their imagination relating to a global crisis and display it using creative means to evince the attention of the people to ensure awareness.

Toby is hugely proud of the dedication and creative flair shown on this project, explaining, “This work experience project has been extremely beneficial for all the students involved. Having to work for a client to a strict brief and deadline was a first-time experience for some of them, but one that is vital, as this is the reality of the world of work.

“The theme for the banner was Climate Justice which students collaboratively tackled by designing the world shackled by the chains of heat and global warming. The background references stained glass windows which symbolize light and hope for the future.

“I am immensely proud of my students and watching the TV footage of this giant banner at Glastonbury Festival was incredible.”

Check out some photos of the banner and the students who collaborated together to make it, below. 

Learn more about studying Art and Design Level 2, here

Richmond upon Thames College needs to reduce the annual leave entitlement of teaching staff in order to improve the quality of the student experience by ensuring that there is more time for teachers to have INSET days outside the teaching timetable to develop their practice, meet as teams and focus on the individual needs of the students and plan and organise their work. This is not a cost cutting exercise but one which in fact will compensate staff fully for the reduction in annual leave and thereby increase their salary during a time of cost-of-living rises.

The College has continued to meet with UCU colleagues to seek agreement and to reach a compromise on new annual leave and pay arrangements. It has become apparent that agreement cannot be reached on the proposal to reduce the current 64 days per year of annual leave to a total of 56 days of leave fully compensated, which is in line with other FE Colleges, by the beginning of the new academic year. There will be full financial compensation given to cover the net loss of 8 days. This will be consolidated into a new salary scale for teaching staff.

We value greatly the work and professionalism of our teachers, as well as their dedication and commitment to our students, and we want to be entirely fair to them. The offer of full financial compensation for the loss of 8 days of annual leave, which has been proposed as a means of improving the student experience, recognises the loyalty of our teachers to both the College and the students and communities we serve.

We recognise and regret that the application of so-called “fire and rehire tactics” has caused a significant degree of upset among some of our colleagues and it is this that UCU identifies as standing in the way of any further negotiations. It is important to reiterate that the application of the option for dismissal and re-engagement is not a coercive tactic but is a recognised part of the procedure for changing terms and conditions, if an agreement cannot be reached. It is known and accepted practice in colleges and all other sectors for old terms and conditions to be removed and for staff to be re-engaged on new terms and conditions. The tabling of this option at the start of the process was simply by way of transparency around the possible outcome of consultations. This was never an intended, desired or declared outcome on the part of the College, who have been clear from the outset that we are prepared to negotiate an agreement, as has been demonstrated by the significant movement we have made throughout the consultation process. As a result, many of our teaching staff have now signed the new contract as they see the terms and conditions as both fair and favourable. However, by remaining entrenched and refusing to reach an agreement, UCU have now forced the College into a position where that formal process is now in train for members who have apparently been directed by UCU not to sign the new contract at this stage.

The College has continued to seek a negotiated agreement with UCU and, to that end, has demonstrated flexibility and willingness to compromise throughout the consultation process. The College has made considerable movement on its initial proposal and it is regrettable that our most recent offer has been met with outright refusal to compromise on the part of UCU. Instead, UCU have notified the College of their intention to carry out strike action on 14 further days in August and September.

These dates are clearly and cynically targeted at disrupting the enrolment process and start of teaching for new students joining the College in 2022/23, as well as prolonging the disruption to the learning experience for continuing students who have been impacted by the strike action carried out to date. The College urges UCU to reconsider this unacceptable tactic, which risks seriously undermining the quality of education for the community of students that we all serve, and return to the negotiating table. The College has made a fair and favourable proposal and yet UCU continues to reject this proposal on the basis of what the College can only identify as a point of principle. If UCU does indeed, as professed, have a genuine desire to reach an acceptable agreement for its members, end the dispute and protect the interests of our students, then the College again urges them to reconsider this fair and reasonable offer.

We are aware that the ongoing dispute with UCU might reasonably give rise to concerns for prospective students and their parents/carers, as well as those already with us and continuing into 2022/23. Please be reassured that the College remains committed to providing all of our students with the best possible learning experience and opportunities to achieve, and we have already put in place strong and effective contingency plans to ensure that any disruption from further industrial action is minimised and our students’ learning experience is fully protected. The management and staff at Richmond upon Thames College will not be intimidated by tactics that seek to coerce by means of threat of further disruption to our students’ learning and assessment experience.

We reject UCU’s latest inflammatory and inaccurate press statement. There is still time for the union to return to the table to find an appropriate way forward and the College urges UCU representatives to do so.

On 10 June, groups of RuTC students from the Dance, Music, Travel and Tourism and Catering and Hospitality departments took part in the York House Society’s Centenary Celebration.

The Centenary Celebration was to commemorate 100 years of the York House Society and its achievements during that time in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. It took place in Clarendon Hall at York House and featured a variety of performances from RuTC Dance and Music students, including two piano solos and an Irish fiddle recital.

The dancers performed three individual dances, each complete with matching outfits and music from numerous genres including classical, pop and jazz.

RuTC Travel and Tourism students welcomed guests to the hall and took them on guided tours of York House.

Alongside the Travel and Tourism students, Catering teacher Neal Hook and his students, provided cold and hot drinks, as well as savoury and dessert canapés to the 70 guests.

Guests were thoroughly impressed with both Music and Dance performances, as well as the professionalism and capability of all the students involved in the celebration.

Dance teacher, Hannah Booth helped organise RuTC students’ involvement in the celebration and said, “The Centenary Celebration at York House was an amazing opportunity for RuTC to showcase how brilliant our students are, and we accomplished just that.

“The Dancers and Musicians performed their sets without a hitch and the Catering and Travel and Tourism students did a wonderful job in making sure the overall event went smoothly and that all the guests had an enjoyable, memorable day.

“York House is an important, magnificent piece of Richmond history and we are extremely proud to have contributed to its 100-year anniversary celebration.”

Check out the gallery below for some photos from the celebration. 

Learn about studying at RuTC here 

On 8 June, Richmond upon Thames College (RuTC) celebrated the Platinum Jubilee, commemorating the 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II reign of Great Britain.

The College’s Student Services team organised a fantastic event for students and staff which included music and activities, a local ice cream van - Sal’s Ices, and a number of stalls promoting local organisations and charities, including, METRO, Heatham House, Richmond Young Carers, MIND and the Metropolitan Police.

Megan Ball and Kelly Jackson in the Student Services team organised the Jubilee decorations and created a bespoke, Queen Elizabeth photo board and handmade origami royal swans in our national colours – red, white and blue.

James Unwin, RuTC catering teacher, handmade hundreds of Victoria sponge cupcakes and cooked hotdogs for staff and students who also enjoyed the games on offer, which included a spinning wheel with various prizes on offer, glow in the dark badminton and more.

Rachel Scarborough, Director of Student Services was delighted at the turnout saying, “I am so pleased at how well the Jubilee celebration went, from ground to the fourth floor the atmosphere was fantastic, everyone was getting involved, having fun celebrating.

“We are proud to acknowledge and celebrate our amazing Queen’s 70-year reign, she is the longest serving monarch this country has ever seen, and she is an example to everyone of duty, dedication and endurance.”

Check out the Gallery below for some fantastic pictures of our Jubilee celebrations. 

Richmond upon Thames College needs to reduce the annual leave entitlement of teaching staff in order to improve the quality of the student experience by ensuring that there is more time for teachers to have INSET days outside the teaching timetable to develop their practice, meet as teams and focus on the individual needs of the students and plan and organise their work. This is not a cost cutting exercise but one which in fact will compensate staff fully for the reduction in annual leave and thereby increase their salary during a time of cost-of-living rises.

The College has continued to meet with UCU colleagues to seek agreement and to reach a compromise on new annual leave and pay arrangements since they declared the ongoing industrial action on the afternoon of Friday 27th May 2022. It has become apparent that agreement cannot be reached on the proposal to reduce the current 64 days per year of annual leave to a total of 56 days of leave fully compensated, which is in line with other FE Colleges, by the beginning of the new academic year. There will be full financial compensation given to cover the net loss of eight days. This will be consolidated into a new salary scale for teaching staff.

UCU continue to propose that the College withdraws the Section 188 notice and have introduced additional conditions to the agreement which are unacceptable to the College leadership team and so agreement cannot be reached. It is not possible to remove the Section 188 as the consultation process is now over. To do so would negate the entire collective consultation process to date and present legal difficulties. However, the College management did agree on 27th May 2022 to remove the option of dismissal and re-engagement if assurances could be given that an agreement had been reached. It is extremely disappointing that the UCU position presented to the College at that point showed no movement at all from the position presented throughout the consultation period, despite further considerable movement on the part of the College signalling a clear desire and intention to continue meaningful negotiation. However, it was very clear that UCU representatives at regional level would not give us the assurances that we needed to improve the quality of the student experience by ensuring that there is more time for teachers to have Inset days to develop their practice. Rather than entering meaningful negotiation, UCU representatives presented the College management team with an unreasonable ultimatum and ceased further negotiation, despite a repeated invitation by College management to continue to do so. Consultation will continue with all members of teaching staff in the hope of reaching a resolution.

We recognise and regret that the application of so-called “fire and rehire tactics” has caused a significant degree of upset among some of our colleagues and it is this that UCU identifies as standing in the way of any further negotiations. It is important to reiterate that the application of the option for dismissal and re-engagement is not a coercive tactic but is a recognised part of the procedure for changing terms and conditions, if an agreement cannot be reached. It is known and accepted practice in colleges and all other sectors for old terms and conditions to be removed and for staff to be re-engaged on new terms and conditions. The tabling of this option at the start of the process was simply by way of transparency around the possible outcome of consultations. This was never an intended, desired or declared outcome on the part of the College’s SLT, who have been clear from the outset that we are prepared to negotiate an agreement, as has been demonstrated by the significant movement we have made throughout the consultation process. It is extremely unfortunate and regrettable that the rhetoric around so-called “fire and rehire” has been used to whip up emotions and detract from the true purpose of this consultation – that is, to reach an agreement that supports improvements in the quality of our student experience without being to the detriment of our teaching staff.

Our MP, Munira Wilson, has always been a great support to the College and understands the rationale for the proposals which will support the student experience and fundamentally recognise the work that teaching staff regularly carry out during holiday times, which is currently unpaid. We acknowledge Munira’s stance on so-called ‘fire and re-hire' and we have been clear from the outset, and have reiterated again, that the option to terminate old contracts and re-engage teaching staff on new terms and conditions would be a final, worst-case scenario which we had hoped to avoid through full, professional and genuine negotiation with UCU representatives. Sadly, UCU have not approached the negotiations in this spirit and in our view have let down their members.

The Senior Leadership Team have explored with sector and HR professionals all options available to them before entering consultation with staff and union colleagues. Serious consideration has been given by the Senior Leadership Team on the union response and we feel that the College position is a very fair and appropriate offer that respects the wishes for the significant number of staff that have already signed to agree the new contract. The option to remove the dismissal and re-engagement process was considered without reaching agreement as to be too great a risk for the College. This would result in different contracts being in place for teaching staff and therefore there would be a lack of consistency for our students and the opportunity for staff to develop their pedagogy and collaboration.

At no point during the 45-day consultation period and the 18-day extension given by the College have UCU entered any reasonable negotiations with the College and this position still stands. We reject their latest inflammatory and inaccurate press statement.

The management and staff at Richmond upon Thames College, who have continued to support students throughout this critical exam period while this industrial action has taken place, will not be intimidated by tactics that seek to coerce by means of threat of further disruption to our students’ learning and assessment experience. There is still time for UCU to return to the table to find an appropriate way forward and the College urges UCU representatives to reconsider their own abrupt conclusion to the most recent negotiation meeting and make every professional effort to support the College in finding a solution that allows us to achieve the best outcome for our students and staff.

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