Campaign update 18/03

Actions – can you help?

 

1. Sign the open letter to College, and ask your students and staff colleagues to do so too. Some high profile staff in the English Department have signed – can you find any sympathetic lecturers and professors in your department? www.tinyurl.com/SupportKCLGTAs

 

2. Ask your department office or GTA lead if they can help you organise a meeting for GTAs in your department, or can collate feedback via email. This is something that Jon Wilson, Vice Dean of Arts and Humanities has said he is encouraging ‘from above’. If you’ve already got good GTA / Department feedback mechanisms then that’s great – please can you nudge your department to push up all feedback to the Faculty too. The College have implied that the feedback we’ve collected is overly negative or biased – so it would be great if GTA feedback on prep and training was coming through College channels too!

The College are refusing to believe that most GTAs in Arts and Humanities and SSPP in particular need more preparation time – even though we have strong survey data to back up our point and when we visit GTAs in different departments everyone is saying the same thing. If everyone could email just a couple of sentences to the GTA campaign email address kclgtacampaign [at] gmail.com about why 2:1 prep time is inadequate, along with the department that you’re in, that would be so helpful!

3. Help us count how many, and what proportion, of classes are taught by hourly-paid folks in your department – email kclgtacampaign at gmail dot com if you can do this.

4. NEXT COLLEGE MEETING: Can you make it to the GTA – College meeting on the 3 April? We’re looking for people who can come and talk about their experience of training, teaching, marking, or any other part of being a GTA in their department for 1-2 minutes. We’re especially keen to hear from History, French, Spanish, German, CMCI, Film, Classics, Digital Humanities, Philosophy, Music, War Studies, Geography, Physics, Maths. Get in touch at the usual email.

5. Forward this info to your GTA colleagues – and ask them to sign up to the mailing list too by emailing kclgtacampaign at gmail dot com!

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Campaign update: initial survey results

Below are the preliminary findings from two Fair Pay for GTAs surveys which ran between November 2018 and February 2019, to collect evidence on the working conditions and pay of GTAs at KCL. 205 responses were recorded on the main GTA survey, which includes people teaching in 2018/2019 and those who taught in 2017/2018. A second survey captured 43 responses from PhD students who have chosen not to teach.

The primary GTA survey focused on: whether GTAs are paid fairly; whether GTAs work more than they are contracted for; the sort of work GTAs are doing; and whether GTAs report that quality of teaching is affected by poor working and pay conditions.

Key Findings

The results show that a majority of GTAs 1) work more than their contracted hours, 2) feel they are paid unfairly, and 3) do not feel valued by the College.

Further, the results show that GTAs consistently overextend themselves in order to provide quality teaching and feedback.

 

  • 87.8% of GTAs at King’s College London work more than their contracted hours in order to properly perform their teaching duties, with 75% ‘often’ or ‘very often’ working more hours than they are paid for.
  • Only 6% of GTAs never work over their contracted hours.
  • 57% of GTAs believe overall GTA work is paid unfairly or very unfairly
  • 60% of GTAs believe marking is paid unfairly or very unfairly
  • 69% of GTAs believe preparation is paid unfairly or very unfairly
  • Only 49% of GTAs say pay compromises overall quality of teaching, indicative of how GTAs work beyond their contracted hours to deliver high-quality teaching

 

You can find the full results of the main GTA survey: GTA Survey All Results and long-form comments: GTA Survey All Comments.

You can find the responses to the GTA opportunities survey, for people who have not been able to teach or have chosen not to teach: GTA Opportunities Survey All Results.

The GTA campaign are still working through the huge amounts of numerical and qualitative data from the surveys. If you are a PhD student at King’s and you can help us produce a comprehensive report, please be in touch at kclgtacampaign@gmail.com

Campaign update 04/01/2019

A quick reminder of GTA campaign activity for the term ahead, and what you can do to secure better pay and conditions for all hourly-paid workers.

1. We will be meeting on Wednesday 23 January, 3:30-5pm. This is an open meeting, and we’ll be discussing the draft College GTA policy document. College have invited us to suggest concrete changes. Please find that document at this Google Drive link, and add in your comments by 10pm Monday 21 January:

[link now removed, email kclgtacampaign@gmail.com to access]

There are some good parts to the document, so please add comments that are both positive and negative! At the campaign open meeting on the 23rd, we will go over the document and draw together everyone’s suggestions.

2. Following this, we will have another GTA – College meeting on 13 Feburary 2pm-3:30pm, room tbc. If you can make it, please let us know.

3. Please continue to circulate the GTA survey http://tinyurl.com/kclgtasurvey.

Please send the link around all mailing lists, friends, colleagues, research group people that you know. Perhaps you can ask your friendly department office to circulate? Let us know if you can do this, as it will help us share work loads. The survey is a key tool for the campaign, it is vital that we reach as many GTAs as we can! Many mid-level College staff (GTA leads, PhD supervisors, and professional services folks) have been really helpful in the sharing the survey, so please reach out to staff you know in your home departments who might have access to mailing lists.

4. Thank you so much to the people who’ve already said they can help with survey analysis. We’re still looking for a couple more people to really get to grips with the results. We’re closing the survey on 4th February, so if you’re free that week please be in touch! kclgtacampaign@gmail.com

5. Make sure you’ve joined UCU or, if you’re already a member, that your details are up to date. A new UCU pay and equality ballot opens on the 14th January, so be ready to vote! https://www.ucu.org.uk/free

Remember: we are essentially asking College to double the amount that they spend on GTA labour, and hugely increase their spending on training and support. We can only win this with a massive group effort! Thanks for everything you’ve done already to support the campaign, and here’s to 2019!

Campaign update 29/11/2018

Some initial success!

We found out late last week that College Education Committee were planning on approving a new GTA policy on Wednesday 28th, that had implications for our training, pay, and ‘status’. We successfully lobbied the Committee to withdraw the paper and return to meaningful consultation with GTAs – thank you to everyone who sent an email to the Commitee! We will let you know when a time, date, place for that meeting is secured. We will also arrange a strategy meeting for GTAs to get together and decide on approaches and priorities. In the meantime, please keep sharing the GTA survey with your colleagues or teachers (and fill it in yourself if you haven’t!): http://tinyurl.com/kclgtasurvey

We have asked the College Education Commitee to share the proposed GTA policy document with us. So far, we’ve only been allowed to look at it, but not have a digital or real copy (nope, we don’t understand either). We will circulate a copy for comments as soon as we can.

Help us keep the pressure up

Email the Vice Principal, nicola.phillips@kcl.ac.uk, the head of Doctoral Studies, Nigel.Eady@kcl.ac.uk, and principal@kcl.ac.uk to urge them to work with GTAs closely, share the draft policy with us, and to reiterate the demands of the campaign (you could just link them to our press release http://roarnews.co.uk/?p=26714). BCC our email address (kclgtacampaign@gmail.com) in too so we get some idea of how many people are emailing!

Keep circulating the petition to PG and UG students. 152 signatures and counting! Let’s make it 300! https://www.kclsu.org/representingyou/campaigns/ourcampaigns/fairpaygtas/

Keep circulating the surveys! It’s really important we get as many responses as possible. 50 respondents so far… can we make it to 100? http://tinyurl.com/kclgtasurvey

Give us a tweet of support! Find us @KingsGTAs.

Fair Pay for GTAs

Campaign update 23/11/18

**Emergency Picket – Institute of Psychiatry, Wednesday 28th November, 1:30-2pm**

Why?

Nigel Eady, administrative director of the Centre for Doctoral Studies is submitting a plan for approval for GTA pay and training to the College Education Committee next Wednesday. We haven’t been able to get a copy of the document but have been told it has big implications for training, pay, and working conditions and reveals how KCL views GTA work. It may very well contain good stuff. But we think that GTAs should have been consulted. The College promised the Fair Pay for GTAs campaign back in 2016 to work more closely with GTA reps, but the College hasn’t even bothered to recruit any this year.

Action

1. We need as many people as possible to get to the Institute of Psychiatry, Camberwell, IoPPN Boardroom, Denmark Hill Main Campus, for 1:30pm on Wednesday 28th, to insist to those attending the meeting to withdraw the paper or vote the proposal down, and to consult with GTAs before decisions are made. The Committee meet at 2pm, so we want to catch them as they arrive.

Meet at the IoPPN at 1:30pm, or catch the bus with us at 12:30 from outside the Strand campus. We’ll bring some banners.

2. Send an email to the committee members explaining why you think the paper should be withdrawn until GTAs are consulted properly. People to copy in are: Nigel Eady; Nicola Phillips; Debbie McCarthy; the principal Ed Byrne; doctoralstudies@kcl.ac.uk; and KCLSU officers, vpp@kclsu.org; president@kclsu.org; vpeas@kclsu.org. You might want to refer them to info in the recent Roar article we put together: http://roarnews.co.uk/?p=26714

Please email us kclgtacampaign at gmail dot com to let us know if you can make it to the picket, whether you can meet us at the IoPPN or you want to travel together from the Strand. Let us know if you’ve sent an email to the Committee members, too!

kclgtacampaign@gmail.com

@KingsGTAs

Campaign update 20/11/2018

150 signatures reached!

Thank you so much to everyone for signing and sharing the Fair Pay for GTAs petition. We’ve reached (and gone beyond!) the 150 signatures needed to become a KCLSU supported campaign, giving us access to support from students’ union staff and a budget.

More signatures will show the College how important the issue is to the whole community. Ask your friends/ colleagues/ teachers/ students sign up here: https://www.kclsu.org/representingyou/campaigns/ourcampaigns/fairpaygtas/

What now?

1. Campaign meeting – Wednesday 28 November at 5pm-6pm, Virginia Woolf Building (22 Kingsway) room 7.20.

How should we escalate the campaign? This all depends on you! We (Julian and Fran) are focussing our efforts on getting the survey out there. But there are other actions/ activities we could do with more hands on deck. Undergraduate, MA, and PhD students, GTAs and non-GTAs all welcome.

On the agenda already: 1) FOI request the College to find out how much labour is done by GTAs. 2) Create short videos to share on social media to encourage people to fill in the survey. 3) Lecture shout-outs to encourage more signatures on the petition. 3) Composing, and disseminating, a letter to collect staff support.

Bring your ideas, and we will bring the snacks.

2. Surveys!

Our most important goal is to collect as much evidence as possible to present to the College. Not only do we want to show how their current policies are failing GTAs, but we want to suggest solutions too – so share your experiences, ideas, and comments on any best practice you’ve noticed around the College as GTAs.

Are you a GTA, or you’ve been a GTA in 2017/2018? Please share your experience on our anonymous survey https://goo.gl/forms/zplDZpLg2L2C7yTu1

Are you a PhD student who has taught before, but decided not to do it again? Or perhaps you’ve never taught before? We’re collecting reasons why here: https://goo.gl/forms/ahwpyU4m6PgB0uEB3

When you’ve filled it in, pass it on to your PhD friends! The survey is based on the Fair Pay for GTAs 2015 survey, so we’ll be able to compare the results and add weight to our lobbying. The dream is to present a big document to College Council of problems and solutions, and a short press release of the headline figures and anecdotes for circulation with the national press.

Three things you can do to help the campaign that take 20 minutes:

– Forward this email to 5-10 PhD colleagues, or the GTAs that teach you, and ask them to fill in the survey. Personalise the email, we have found that this helps!

– Print out a few flyers – download from our blog https://kclgtas.wordpress.com/posters-and-flyers/ – and share them with colleagues or your seminar groups. (If you’ve got an eye for design, why not make us a new poster?)

– Share the Roar newspaper article on your social media, and tag the campaign @KingsGTAs http://roarnews.co.uk/?p=26714

Let us know if you’ve done one of these things (for instance, if you’ve flyer-ed the history department/ Maughan library/ Waterloo cafe, that will save one of us the trip!).

kclgtacampaign at gmail dot com

We’re now on Twitter! @KingsGTAs

Fair Pay for GTAs: Demands 2018

The Fair Pay for GTAs campaign is focussing on the following demands for 2018/2019.

1) Essay marking

  • AIM: 2,000 words per-hour
  • Current rate: 4,000 words per-hour

Fair Pay for GTAs has always lobbied for for 2,000 words per hour. While the College negotiated the rate from 5,000 to 4,000 words per hour in 2016, we are contining to demand 2,000 words per hour.

Calculating a precise, fair ‘average’ for essay marking time is tricky. Some GTAs are quicker than others and essays are of variable standard, with some requiring more detailed feedback.

While we accept the difficulty of standardising pay structures for marking across a range of subjects, our recommendation of 2,000 words per-hour is a sober and reasonable figure that we feel reflects the time we put into marking – at least if we wish to do a decent job. This figure would also be in line with the National Union of Journalists’ recommended rate for proof-reading, one of the closest ‘paid-per-word’ analogues to essay marking.

2) Preparation time

  • AIM: 4:1 ratio beween paid prep and teaching hours
  • Current rate: 2:1 ratio between paid prep and teaching hours (excepting multiple seminars on the same module)

Currently GTAs are expected to perform all their lesson preparation in just two hours per week, including for subjects where weekly reading can be entire novels, as well as a range of secondary material. And teaching preparation isn’t just about doing the reading: planning materials and resources, and devising seminar activity takes time.

As with marking, the variety of demands on GTAs in different departments makes it difficult to calculate a standardised pay scale for prep. Our 4:1 recommendation is intended as a fair medium, accepting that for some GTAs it would be a generous provision and others less so.

All lecture attendance across all faculties must also be paid: as it stands, some faculties pay for this work, while others do not.

3) Training and development

  • AIM: Paid, improved, department-based training for teaching and assessments. Paid opportunities for further College and Faculty-wide training though Skills Forge. The opportunity to work up to a King’s accredited qualification.
  • Current provision: The College-wide ‘Preparing to Teach’ course, and ‘paid departmental inductions and training with a specific focus on best practice for marking and teaching’. Apparently.

The Fair Pay for GTAs campaign has worked hard to improve training provision – and secure payment for the little training that already existed. However, although the College promised improved departmental training, our surveys are showing that PhD students still feel under prepared.

The survey responses from GTAs tell us that provision is often too little – one or two hours thinking over general classroom techniques – or too late, with marking training given when the marking period has already started. We demand training that is timely, thorough, practice-based, and ongoing.

The College must make greater use of the experise that it has in teacher training to provide GTAs with not only a foundation when they begin teaching, but opportunities to develop as we teach. There are currently additional training sessions on offer to teachers at King’s, offered through the ‘Skills Forge’ staff portal, but these opportunities are unpaid. GTAs who want to improve their practice should be renumerated for their work.


Further campaign aims

Beyond our key demands around pay and training, we are working on the following areas:

4) Representation

While the College and Students’ Union have adopted the policy of creating two elected GTA rep positions in the King’s Post-Doctoral Forum, who would be invited to senior management meetings, in practice this system is not working.

The GTA rep positions have been poorly advertised and remain unfilled as of November 2018. Both the College and the Students’ Union must take their responsibility to reach out to GTAs seriously. The Fair Pay for GTAs campaign is working hard to make sure these structures are used. Contact us via email on on Facebook if you’d like to work on these College structures.

5) An end to outsourcing

GTA work should be brought entirely in-house as a matter of simple principle against the increasing casualisation of the higher education workforce. Casual teachers employed via direct temping are not eligible for the workplace protection that membership within the UCU affords King’s staff.

Furthermore, on a purely administrative front, being paid via direct temping can make simple matters (such as chasing up an incorrect tax code or if the university fails to submit documentation on time) into an unnecessary hassle, as direct temping will pursue the employee in the event of irregularities, resulting in more work for them. For this reason, some departments (including Geography) have already discontinued this practice.

We stand in solidarity with the Justice for Cleaners campaign as they continue to hold King’s to account for its promises to bring all cleaning staff in house. All King’s staff must be in house staff.

6) Addressing the situation of all casual staff

GTAs are not the only causalised staff members at King’s. The reality of the academic job market for most post-doctorates is up to a decade of piecemeal work, fixed-term contracts and minimal job security. This kind of work is also extremely transitory, with teaching fellows and hourly-paid lecturers forced to migrate all over the country (and beyond) at yearly, six-month and even three-month intervals in pursuit of employment.

We will continue to work with our UCU colleagues to lobby for improved conditions for staff on fixed-term contracts.

7) Reaching outside of Arts and Sciences

The Fair Pay for GTAs campaign has mostly been based in Arts and Sciences. There are practical explanations for this: the bulk of GTA labour is concentrated in Arts & Hums and the campaign began in Arts & Hums departments, meaning this was where our initial building took place.

However, we have been contacted by GTAs from a number of other faculties with horror stories about their working conditions. If this is something you can recognise, and you’d like to help bring the campaign to the Health schools, we would love to hear from you.

Contact the campaign:

kclgtacampaign@gmail.com

@KingsGTAs

Closed GTA facebook group

Support Fair Pay for GTAs

1. Undergraduate, MA, or PhD student at King’s? Sign the petition to support the campaign here.

2. Current GTA? GTA in 2017-2018? Share your experience on the GTA survey.

3. Not at King’s? Send us a note of support