Monday 3 March 2014

Greens issue radical education challenge to 3 main parties

Regular readers will realise I have been away for a few days. I have been in Liverpool for the Green Party Conference where we debated Education policy on Saturday:

The Green Party has sharply differentiated its education policy from that of the three main political parties in revisions adopted at the weekend.

Moving the revisions I said:

The neoliberal project is based on the premise of unlimited growth and unrestrained exploitation of the earth’s resources and sees society purely in terms of the market, competition, private acquisition and consumerism. This leads to the marketisation of education through the privatisation of schools, erosion of democratic accountability and the narrowing of the curriculum policed by testing and Ofsted.

Our rejection of this model enables us to put forward an education policy that is child-centred and provides everyone with the knowledge and skills to live a fulfilled life, restores local democratic accountability, teachers’ professional autonomy and children’s right to a childhood.

The revised policy that was overwhelmingly approved with only two or three votes against commits the Green Party to:

·        Abolish the current SATs and the Year 1 Literacy Screening Test and rigid age-related benchmarking

·        Recognise the great variance in children’s development in the early years and the need to offer developmentally appropriate provision including the important role of play in early learning

·        Strengthen the role of local authorities in terms of funding and the enhancement of their democratic accountability

·        Oppose free schools and academies and integrate them into the local authority school system

·        Restore the right of local authorities to build new schools where they are needed

·        Adopt an admissions policy that recognises every child and young person’s entitlement to access a fair, comprehensive and equal education system, regardless of their background

·        Embrace a diverse range of educational approaches within that system

·        Replace Ofsted with an independent National Council of Educational Excellence which would have regional officers tasked to work closely with LAs. The National Council would be closely affiliated with the National Federation for Educational Research (NFER)

·        Ensure every child in the state funded educational system is taught by a qualified teacher

·        Reject performance related pay

Existing policy on the Curriculum which replaces the National Curriculum with a series of ‘Learning Entitlements remains unaltered.

Commenting after the policy changes were adopted I said:
We know that many despair of the current policies of Michael Gove and Tristram Hunt’s pale imitation and the great and reckless damage they are doing to the education system, teachers’ morale and children’s well being. We have clearly set out an alternative vision that replaces competition with cooperation, coercion with partnership, and fragmentation with cohesion.

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