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 →
In his speech to Labour Party conference, Tristram Hunt outlined a minimal education policy. None of the great questions raised by Michael Gove’s reign over education were addressed. He had an excellent opportunity to fill the post-Gove void and persuade academics, teachers, teaching assistants, trade unionists, parents and everyone concerned for education not only to vote Labour but also to persuade others to do the same. The 10 minute speech received lukewarm applause in contrast to the warm reception given to other Shadow Cabinet speakers. As John Crace wrote in the Guardian:
The shadow education secretary’s most obvious ambition was to get out of the hall as fast as possible and no one was minded to thwart it.”
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The Labour Party’s declared aim is to build a “one-nation society” with a “one-nation economy” and a “one-nation education system”. What would a “one-nation education system” look like? Clearly, there can be many different solution to such a complex problem but some general principles would need to apply in all cases. With this in mind there are some decidedly odd features of Labour policy for England. Some are listed below – private schools, faith schools, LEAs and Tristram Hunt. Continue reading →
It is the age of the “gold standard”. The Labour party has circulated eight consultation documents which set out draft policy proposals for the 2015 manifesto. Education is dealt with in “Education and Children” and to a lesser extent in “Work and Business”. Apparently they should be read in conjunction with the recently-issued “One Nation Society” and “One Nation Economy” documents (I commented on the former here).
Let’s start with the good news. There are commitments to extending early years provision. Labour would expand free child-care for working parents of 3-4 year-olds from 15 to 25 hours per week. It would also commit to providing “wrap-around” school-based child-care from 8 am to 6 pm. Continue reading →
Having giving his support to academies and “parent-led academies” (aka free schools), Labour’s new shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt has now committed the party to another key right-wing goal for education: “performance-related pay” (PRP). He told the BBC Question Time audience: “I’m in favour of performance-related pay. We had a great report come out today by Alan Milburn on social mobility, and the chapters in there on education are totally compelling.”
In a subsequent interview with Andrew Marr, days after his promotion to the Shadow Cabinet, Hunt added “… what teachers want is respect from politicians. … You listen to their views and you take them with you”. It is a safe bet that Hunt did not discuss performance-related pay with teachers before declaring it Labour party policy. A strange way of commanding respect by listening and taking people with you, one might say. Continue reading →