Sarah Williams, SEA
The SEA delegate to Labour Conference 2016, Sarah Williams, proposed an historic motion earlier today calling for the establishment of comprehensive education throughout the secondary education system and an end to selection and segregation. The motion passed today at conference is as follows:
Conference abhors the Government proposal to encourage the creation of more Grammar Schools in England. Conference believes education is a collective good that benefits, not just individual pupils/students but society as a whole. Conference views the recent proposals set forth by Justine Greening MP for Putney to expand grammar schools and to remove the cap on faith-based admissions as divisive. Conference believes that the best interests of all children, and the country, would be better served by providing adequate resources for all schools to match the highest achieving ones. Conference notes that grammar schools fail the poorest students “less than 3% of their students are eligible for free school meals (FSM), whereas the average proportion in selective areas is 18%” and that grammar schools encourage inequality. Since there is no evidence that grammar schools improve social mobility or educational outcomes conference condemns this proposal as a retrograde step. Conference recognises that the purpose of education should be to provide all children, irrespective of background or specific needs, with the skills, knowledge enthusiasm an understanding necessary to lead a rewarding and fulfilling life. Conference therefore commits the Labour Party to opposing any expansion to selective education and also to the establishment in all areas of a genuinely comprehensive and inclusive secondary education system that provides for all children according to their needs as well as ensuring a greater voice for councillors, parents and professionals.
On Tuesday SEA’s delegate, Sarah Williams, will move the resolution on selective schooling at the Labour Conference. The resolution, if passed, will represent a significant moment in the long struggle against selection. It not only asks the party to oppose the current government proposals but also makes the case for the phasing out of all remaining selective education. The full text is in the previous post on this page.
The latest issue of the SEA journal, Education Politics, addresses the issues around selection in detail. It contains an analysis of the arguments by Melissa Benn as well as a number of personal testimonies to the value of comprehensive schooling. It can be accessed here: education-politics-september-2016.
Defeating the government’s proposals won’t be easy. Ending selection everywhere will be even harder. So we would encourage all Labour members and supporters who want to be part of that campaign to join the SEA – just follow the tab on the top of this page.
John Bolt, SEA Secretary
John Bolt, SEA Secretary, has called on SEA members and others attending Labour Party conference to support our motion on grammar schools in the ballot this coming Sunday.
John says, ‘ This is a critical issue. We need to take every opportunity to make the case against this appalling proposal. It is also an opportunity to make the case for taking action to phase out all selection wherever it remains.’ He added, ‘I would like to ask all SEA members to do what they can to persuade their conference delegates to vote for this resolution in the priorities ballot on Sunday. A number of CLPs have submitted similar motions but we need to maximise support for it so that it reaches the conference agenda.’
The text of the motion is as follows:
Conference deplores the Prime Minister’s threat “to launch a new generation of grammar schools by scrapping the ban on them imposed almost 20 years ago”, reported in the Daily Telegraph on 6th August;
regrets that a selective system continues in force in parts of the country;
is aware that research evidence, both in England and internationally, shows that that selective schools do not promote social mobility or contribute to the raising of standards.
recognises that the purpose of education should be to provide all children, irrespective of background or specific needs, with the skills, knowledge, enthusiasm and understanding necessary to lead a rewarding and fulfilling life. Labelling children as failures before education has given them the chance to develop, which is what selection does, is one of the prime causes of division and unfairness in our society.
therefore commits the party to opposing any expansion to selective education and also to the ending of educational selection in all state funded schools through the establishment in all areas of a genuinely comprehensive and inclusive secondary education system that provides for all children according to their needs.’
On October 15 2016, Ruskin College will host a day school on the speech made 40 years ago at Ruskin College by Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan and examine its impact in the subsequent decades.
The roots of the current ‘School Revolution’ lie in the speech made 40 years ago at Ruskin College. This was the first ever speech about education by a Prime Minister, and politicians have hardly stopped talking about education ever since. Continue reading
The next SEA Members’ Meeting will take place from 2.00 to 4.00 pm on Saturday 17th September in Rooms 1 and 2 at Leeds Civic Hall, Calverley St, Leeds LS1 1UR (booked in the name of Councillor Alex Sobel)
There will be two discussion items:
- Comprehensive Education and Social Justice: the forward march of progress halted?
Professor Howard Stevenson will discuss this theme which is of course of very particular relevance in the light of current government proposals.
Howard Stevenson is Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Nottingham University and among other roles is co-Editor of the journal Forum that was originally founded by Professor Brian Simon over 50 years ago. The journal continues to challenge the (re-emerging) orthodoxy of fixed ability thinking and practice, whilst also making the case for the democratic control of education and education as a public good.
- Phasing out Elitist Education
The following resolution was passed by the SEA Annual Conference in June and was referred to the Executive for more detailed debate:
This meeting believes that privately educated alumni’s disproportionate occupation of positions of power and influence across key professions and political institutions undermines both the spirit and practice of democracy in the UK and it instructs the NEC to report back on how the influence of private education might be reduced or possibly abolished.
The SEA Executive will meet in the same location from 12.15 to 1.30. All SEA members are welcome at both these meetings.
The SEA was very saddened to learn that Ken Purchase, Labour MP 1992-2010 and Vice President of SEA died yesterday.
John Bolt, SEA General Secretary, said, ‘Ken was a very active supporter of SEA and was instrumental in setting up the parliamentary branch and enhancing our relationships in Parliament. He will be a huge loss to SEA and to many of us who know him and hugely enjoyed his company.’
The Sunday Telegraph recently reported that PM Theresa May was planning to scrap the ban on new grammar schools in a bid to boost “social mobility”. Opposition has been widespread but it seems that the myths about the efficacy of grammar schools being engines of social mobility still persist despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Professor Selina Todd’s 2014 Caroline Benn Memorial Lecture provides a coruscating analysis of the case for grammar schools and dispatches the arguments still deployed by anecdotalists in favour of their retention and/or expansion. Continue reading
SEA is very happy to support unreservedly this statement.
“The Society of Labour Lawyers condemns the racist and xenophobic attacks which have been reported to have taken place across the United Kingdom. Racially motivated violence has no place in our society. Incitement of racial hatred and racially aggravated assault are criminal offences. We call on our members to stand united and undeterred against such xenophobia and racism and we call on the government to condemn these attacks”.
The Labour Party and the Labour movement has a long history of fighting racism and bigotry and we will continue to fight any prejudice and campaign for a fair, equal and just society and we ask that all socialist societies would support this statement”