STAFF at Peter Symonds College were on strike this week to demand more funding for their students and colleges.

Members of the National Education Union (NEU) took to the picket line on Wednesday to air their concerns over severe cuts to further education.

A ballot was held by NEU and 84 per cent of members backing action, with a number of staff choosing not to turn up at the college at all while others took a stand.

David Francis, NEU co-rep at the college and chemistry teacher, said: “We are not just doing it for ourselves we are doing it for the whole sector.

“In the real term we’ve had funding cuts every year since 2010. The cumulative effect is quite severe.

“Other colleges where cuts have been made mean redundancies and very severe cuts in courses.”

Mr Francis also said that extra support for students have also been impacted.

He added: “Peter Symonds has remained fully operational, but with a slight increase in class sizes.”

Teachers are also striking over pay, with Mr Francis saying that most seeing relatively low pay rises over the previous nine years.

The college remained open during the strike, and staff said that the majority of teaching and learning activities continued as normal.

Principal Sara Russell said: At Peter Symonds we are proud that against a background of funding pressures, right across all public services, we have been able to maintain the impressive range of subjects, the enrichment and strong pastoral support available to our students as well as the outstanding results that we are renowned for.”

But nationally, the NEU has said, Teaching staff numbers and support staff posts have fallen significantly due to the real-terms cuts, while at the same time student numbers have risen, which is putting a strain on colleges.

Karen Williams of the National Education Union said: “NEU members across Hampshire have a very clear message for Government, and their anger is growing. Each day they see the effects of shameful cuts to 16-19 funding, which have gone on much longer and much deeper than in any other school sector.

“In this election we are arguing the case for education. With today’s strike, members are amplifying that message. They are telling Government and the general public that Sixth Form Colleges are on their knees. Serious investment is needed urgently to ensure that it can remain the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the education sector. Meeting the £700m shortfall for Post-16 would be a good start.”