The People’s Parliament organised by John McDonnell MP recently held a meeting on education under the title Re-thinking schooling: class & education. The panel of speakers included Christine Blower, the General Secretary of the NUT and Diane Reay, a Cambridge university sociologist specialising in questions of class. The contributions were excellent and were followed by an hour long discussion with questions and points coming from the audience. You can find a report of the meeting and audio files of the main contributions on the website of the Socialist Educational Association (SEA).
Frustration with Labour’s policies on education and a lack confidence in Tristram Hunt were both evident in the contributions of virtually everyone (panel and audience) who spoke about them. It was mentioned more than once that the only party with educational policies anywhere near matching what most campaigners for inclusive and comprehensive state education want is the Green Party. Some members of the audience even said that they had left the Labour Party because of its abandonment of progressive educational ideas and policies along with its embrace of neo-liberal marketising concepts. Continue reading
Education is like apple pie and motherhood: everyone agrees it is a good thing. The problem is that “education” refers not to one thing but to a wide range of different arrangements serving very different social needs. A highly stratified hierarchical society is likely to have a similarly differentiated hierarchical system of education. A society committed to democracy and to making citizens equal, not only in terms of formal opportunity, but in the reality of their material circumstances will, of course, need something very different.
So, Tony Blair’s “Education, education, education” quip in response to a request for his top three priorities might have sent off caring signals and a desire to better everyone’s lives but, a closer look reveals something different. Such a look has been taken by Clyde Chitty in his unfortunately priced (£50) book New Labour and Secondary Education 1994-2010. Continue reading
A long-term campaign has been conducted against comprehensive education through the mass media. It’s themes are well known: “failing comprehensives”, “falling standards”, “left-wing teachers”, “teachers’ unions”, “local authority bureaucracy” and many other negative tropes. These are all found in abundance in Andrew Adonis’s book Education, Education, Education – Reforming England’s Schools. Continue reading
The GMB has drawn our attention to what Stephen Twigg is up to on Education policy. And you won’t like it. Remember Liam Byrne? Now that he’s got no job to go to in Birmingham, we’re stuck with him “running” the policy review until the next reshuffle. Buried on Liam’s Fresh Ideas website is an education policy consultation document – Devolving Power in Education — School Freedom and Accountability. The key thrust that we and the GMB object to is this:
Labour has no desire to turn back the clock and return powers from schools to Local Authorities. Nor do we want to see a reduction in the autonomies we gave schools through academies, trust schools and federations. In fact, although school autonomy is not the focus of this consultation, I want to see more schools get the freedoms that allow them to serve their pupils and communities most effectively.” Continue reading