Morale ‘crisis’ looms at City College Norwich

A 'crisis' is looming at City College Norwich because of rising stress levels among staff and poor support from senior managers, a lecturers' union said today.

The University and College Union (UCU) has written to principal Dick Palmer to outline a host of worries and to allege a lack of management concern for the welfare of staff.

The union claimed:

A programme of observing lecturers while they taught was 'being used as a big stick'.

Four reorganisations in five years had created 'nearly chaotic conditions'

Lecturers did not have enough time to properly prepare their lessons because of 'additional responsibilities'.

Mark Hughes, the college's UCU branch secretary, told the Evening News: 'There's real pressure building up on lecturers. We really are concerned about stress levels. I think it will get to crisis point if it carries on like this.'

Most Read

Mr Palmer responded to the claims by saying that the college recognised that staff wellbeing and effective working practices were 'of paramount importance'.

He said: 'I regularly listen to staff about their concerns and we are also acting on their feedback given through our annual staff survey. The college is actively involving staff in responding to the challenges we face.'

Mr Hughes, whose union represents 174 City College workers, said morale was 'very poor'.

He said: 'We think an observation process is a good thing, but the way it's being implemented we see it as a big stick, rather than something that's supportive and encouraging people to look at their practice.'

He added: 'The contract of 860 hours of teaching per year is one of the toughest in the country. It means that the other time should be used for preparation, but the college is throwing additional responsibilities on tutors and their general duty time is being eroded.'

Mr Palmer said only two of 1,000 college staff were currently off with stress, and added: 'The college has invested in a Centre for Continuing Professional Development, which works with our teachers using a supportive and developmental approach.

'Our lesson observation process is in line with that which you would find in other colleges and has an important role to play in ensuring the quality of teaching and learning at the college.'

He said: 'Working in education can be stressful at times – as well as incredibly rewarding - and the current spending cuts are clearly making life tough for everyone in the public sector.'

Do you have an education story? Steve Downes is on 01263 513920 or