Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Why the Green Party should endorse the NUT's Manifesto

The Green Party is the only one of the mainstream parties that challenge the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM). The GERM seeks to move both the structure and content of education in a neo-liberal direction. It reduces the role of education to competition in an ever expanding global market and opens the system to private profit.

I have written about this in an article on the Open Democracy website LINK

The National Union of Teachers and the Green Party both recognise the need to challenge this threat and so there is underlying agreement on principles between the NUT Manifesto for the 2015 General Election and Green Party education policy.

I have published a paper on the Green Party members' site giving a detailed comparison of the two documents and here publish the main findings. I think there is sufficient overlap for the Green Party to broadly endorse the NUT Manifesto with some more discussion needed on particular aspects.

Here are some major areas of agreement:

  • Both want to develop an exciting new vision for education and move away from a narrow prescriptive curriculum. Greens reject market driven models of education that see  its role only in terms of international economic competitiveness  and preparation for work. they advocate a system that enable people to participate fully in society and lead a fulfilled life.
  • Both want a broad, balanced and enriching entitlement curriculum with the Greens emphasising that learners and teachers should be able to develop their own content within this context.
  •  The NUT and Greens agree on the need for 14-19 qualifications framework which give equal value to academic, vocational, creative and practical subjects.
  • There is agreement on the need for a new approach to evaluating schools include much wider involvement of parents, teachers and community. The Greens would replace Ofsted with an independent National Council for Academic Excellence, linked with the NfER. This would work collaboratively with schools and local authorities on school improvement.
  • The Greens want to abolish league tables and the NUT wants to replace them with national sampling. More discussion is needed on how the latter would work.
  • Both want to reclaim teachers' professional respect, responsibility and autonomy with the NUT citing the successful London Challenge.
  • Greens and the NUT agree that all children should be taught by qualified teachers or those in training towards qualification and the need for quality initial teacher education and in-service  education and training.
  • The NUT wants a recruitment strategy that reflects the diverse nature of school communities while the Greens emphasise education on diversity issues for teachers and other school workers and the effective equality and diversity monitoring of recruitment and staff development.
  • The NUT wants to reduce teachers' workload, restore a national pay structure and professional levels of pay, and opposes the extension of the retirement age to 68. The Green Party promises  to work with the teaching unions to reverse the process by which teachers have gradually been deskilled and their professional autonomy eroded and will review pension arrangements and retirement age with then. The Green Party opposes performance relation Pay for teachers.
  •  This is a concern for both the NUT and the Green Party and there is agreement on the immediate need for the abolition of the Bedroom Tax, high quality nursery education , restoration of the Education Maintenance Allowance or a similar scheme. The Green's proposal on a Citizen's Income could replace the allowance in the long term and would begin to tackle child poverty.
  • Both agree on the urgent need to tackle youth unemployment.
  •  There is agreement on the need to strengthen local authorities' role in educational provision and in particular the need for the restoration of the LA's power to provide new school places though building new LA schools.
  •  Both Greens and the NUT call for an end to the marketisation of education and oppose schools being run for profit. Greens see education as a right and an entitlement that should be free at the point of delivery to people of all ages.
  • Greens oppose the creation of more academies and free schools and would integrate them into the local authority school system. The NUT call for the end of approval for new free schools and support the right of all schools to return to the status of local authority schools. The Greens support parents and communities fighting the forced academisation of their schools.
  • Both agree on the need for the restoration of funding to local authorities and their role in overseeing the quality of education in their locality.
  •  The NUT calls for the restoration of education funding to at least 2010 levels in real terms. There is nothing explicit in Green Party policy but it is certainly something we should explore.

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