What are we doing to our young people?

The Reclaiming Education Annual Conference

The Reclaiming Education Annual Conference will be held on Saturday November 10, 2018 from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm at Hamilton House (National Education Union), Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BD

We will be asking the question “What are we doing to our young people? Is education going in the wrong direction?”

Surveys show that our children are amongst the most unhappy in the developed world We have a funding crisis and a teacher recruitment and retention crisis. The conference will explore how all these issues have come about and more importantly what can be done to put us on a better track. You can see more of our analysis at http://www.reclaimingeducation.org.uk/wrongdirection.html

The speakers will include Diane Reay, Professor of Education at Cambridge University and Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary, National Education Union.

Book at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/what-are-we-doing-to-our-young-people-is-education-going-in-the-wrong-direction-tickets-50562165799.
Price £25 including lunch

Big steps forward for education at Liverpool

SEA members and supporters came away from the Labour Conference this week in a more optimistic mood than for many years. For one thing, education was a high profile issue. In the ballot for contemporary resolutions, education proved to be a winner. Fringe meetings were packed and there was real passion in many of the contributions.

But more importantly, we saw real movement on policy matched by a demand from the floor of conference for a more radical approach. Most obviously, there was the dramatic new policy statement on academies and free schools. Crucially, this was not just about stopping further academisation or giving a few powers back to local authorities. The commitment now is that:

  • “We will also consult on and establish a new regulatory framework for schools. This would bring schools within the principles of the National Education Service, and ensure that all schools follow the same rules, with schools being regulated by statute, rather than thousands of individual contracts;
  • The objectives of this framework will be;
    • A standard set of rules and procedures applying to all schools, including pay agreements;
    • A standard legal basis for all schools based in statute, not private contract;

Make no mistake – that means the end of the privatisation agenda. Also incorporated in the new policy is removing control over admissions from individual schools and returning place planning and the commissioning of new schools to local authorities.

On top of this there were major pledges on the early years and committing to free further as well as higher education.

SEA had a good profile at the conference. We held our first fringe meeting for some years with Melissa Benn, Emma Hardy MP and Louise Regan. Despite being in a fairly obscure part of the conference area, it was standing room only – so much so that, as the TES journalist tweeted, the white wine ran out! The contributions from both the speakers and the floor were powerful and made it very clear that change needs to come.

Our contemporary resolution formed a substantial part of the composite that reached the conference floor and was carried overwhelmingly. Our delegate, James Whiting, also moved the reference back of the grammar school section of the Policy Commission report and this too was carried with very little dissent. It was also the case that behind the scenes, SEA had a significant influence on the academies’ policy statement and our contribution has been noticed at the top of the party.

There is more to do. 11+ plus selection is an issue that has not yet been confronted. All the issues around curriculum, testing and inspection also need to be addressed. The policy implications of ending feed needs to be worked through. Nonetheless this week represented a big step forward for SEA and for education policy in the party.

The National Education Service – from Vision to Reality

The newly published conference issue of Education Politics explores the concept of the National Education Service from many angles. It sets how SEA thinks the principles of the NES need to be developed across all sectors of education. It includes articles by Kevin Courtney and Melissa Benn and ranges from the structure of education to the issues around the mental health of young people that are currently so concerning. It also visits New Zealand to see what the new Labour government there is doing to transform education.

You can access this issue of Education Politics here: Education Politics Sept 2018.

We’d also like to invite all members and friends who will be at the Labour party Conference in Liverpool to our fringe meeting – “The National Education Service – from Vision to Reality – at 6.00 pm on Sunday 23rd September.  It’s in Concourse Room 4 of the main conference centre. Speakers are Melissa Benn, Emma Hardy MP and Louise Regan from NEU.

Caroline Benn Memorial Lecture 2018 | Professor Stephen Gorard

Caroline Benn Memorial Lecture 2018

We are delighted to announce that the SEA is hosting the annual Caroline Benn Memorial Lecture at the House of Commons  on the evening of Tuesday 13th November.  The lecture begins at 6pm and will take place in Committee Room 14.

Date and Time:
Tue, November 13, 2018, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM GMT

House of Commons, Committee Room 14

This year’s Caroline Benn Lecture will be delivered by Professor Stephen Gorard from Durham University. Stephen is probably the leading academic specialist on all the issues around school choice, selection and its impact on both schools and on young people themselves. His research is absolutely key to understanding how inequality bedevils our school system. Anyone concerned with these issues will need to hear Stephen’s latest views on school intakes and their impact on social cohesion.

Register via Eventbrite to book your tickets for this free event.

We anticipate there will be a high level of demand, so we would advise you to book your place as soon as possible.

Labour Party Conference 2018

SEA Labour Party Conference fringeThis year’s Labour Party Conference runs from Sunday 23rd to Wednesday 26th September and is being held at the ACC in Liverpool. For the first time in several years, SEA is holding a fringe meeting at conference. It will be at 6.00 pm on Sunday 23rd in Concourse Room 4 of the main conference centre.

The theme of the meeting will be “The National Education Service – from Vision to Reality”. Our speakers will be Melissa Benn (SEA Vice President), Emma Hardy MP and Louise Regan (former NUT President). For those in need, refreshments will be served!

As far as education goes, the main focus at conference will be the report of the National Policy Forum’s Education Commission – you can read that here – NPF Education report 2018.

I think that many members will find this document to be very thin in terms of concrete policy proposals. The aim of our fringe meeting will be to address this gap and to explore what specific actions will be needed to make the NES a reality. We would encourage all SEA members and supporters to raise the need for a more detailed and robust plan for the NES in CLPs and union branches.

At our Executive meeting in Leeds on 15th September, we will be discussing how we can work at Conference to this end. This meeting will be at the St George’s Centre, Great George Street, Leeds LS1 3DL from 11.00 to 4.00. All SEA members are welcome.SEA Labour Party Conference fringe

Amanda Spielman talks to Ann Mroz at the Hay Festival.

Mike Newman (SEA Cymru) writes:

Ann Mroz is the editor of the Times Educational Supplement.

Amanda Spielman is the Ofsted Chief Inspector. She was with KMG Thomson McLintock from 1982 to 1986 then Kleinwort Benson from 1986 to 1992. She was a director of Newstead Capital from 1992 to 1994 and of Bridgewater Business Analysis from 1994 to 1995. She was a principal at Mercer Management ConsultingBoston from 1995 to 1997 and then at Nomura Principal Finance from 1997 to 2004.

With this astounding background in educational theory, she became part of the founding management team at Ark Schools. From 2011 to 2016 she was chair of Ofqual, the exam regulator.

In June 2016, Spielman was selected by Education Secretary Nicky Morgan to take over as Chief Inspector of schools and children’s services in England. Following a pre-appointment hearing, Spielman’s nomination was rejected by the Education Select Committee which expressed concerns about her suitability, her lack of teaching experience and her failure to show “passion” or understanding of the “complex role”. However, their objections were overridden by the minister, who dismissed their arguments and confirmed her intention to appoint Spielman. Continue reading

‘What would a radical National Education Service look like?

SEA members and supporters may be interested in another event designed to explore the issues around the idea of a National Education Service. It’s at Hamilton House on Wednesday 20th June at 6.00 pm.

Some of the questions that will be discussed at the event include:

– What should a National Education Service be for?
– How can we reduce the fragmentation of the education system and promote lifelong learning?
– How do we improve the parity of esteem between academic and vocational/technical education?
– How can we ensure teachers are trained to teach the whole curriculum, including sex education and PSHE?
– How do we solve the retention and recruitment crisis in teaching?

The speakers are:

Melissa Benn (Campaigner and author)
Kevin Courtney (National Education Union General Secretary)
Gus John (UK’s first black Director of Education and IOE Professor)
Warwick Mansell (Education journalist)
Ciaran Thapar (Youth worker and writer)
Tasnima Ahmed (Poet and educator)
Ali Stephens (Radical Education Forum)
Chair: Holly Rigby (Teacher and Momentum activist)

You can book for the event at


The Meaning of Corbynism – George Eaton at the SEA Conference

We are delighted to announce a further high quality addition to the line up of speakers at the SEA Confeerence. George Eaton, Political Editor of the New Statesman, will be sharing his thoughts on the current political scene around the theme of “The Meaning of Corbynism”. It’s certain to be a fascinating and thought provoking session from one of the best informed observers of Labour and the left.

The AGM and conference is on Saturday 23rd June at the Wesley Hotel, Euston Street, London. Thanks to those members who’ve booked already. If you still need to – and there are some places still available at just £10 including lunch – please email secretary@socialisteducationalassociation.org