James Whiting, the SEA ‘s General Secretary has welcomed Labour’s commitment to a National Excellence Programme outlined in Keir Starmer’s Leader’s speech to Labour’s 2021 Party Conference but has urged the Labour Party to be more ambitious and end the fragmented education system in England.
The SEA also welcomes Labour’s commitment to an effective strategy to reduce child poverty. This is essential to close the achievement gap between disadvantaged children and others.
However, it is doubtful that Ofsted can be reformed to support any National Excellence Programme. Instead, Labour should consider a system of collaborative peer review to improve schools.
While the ambition to recruit more teachers is to be applauded, teacher retention is equally important. Pay, conditions and workload will need to be addressed and teacher education and professional development delivered once again through collaborative partnerships between universities and schools rather than the market which the Tories have promoted.
Children and young people also deserve a curriculum which enables them to engage in creative subjects as well as a fair assessment system that ends the Tories’ obsession with exams. Abolition of the EBacc which has done untold damage by limiting the subjects offered by schools and colleges must also be a priority.
At the heart of Labour’s plans there should also be a recognition that they will inherit a broken and fragmented system in which scandalous amounts of public money have been wasted on the creation of academies often against the wishes of parents and local communities.
To deliver a National Excellence Programme Labour will need parents, teachers, students and local communities on their side. This is why Labour must seize the opportunity of government and replace the Tories’ academisation and free school programme with an ambitious plan to create new democratic structures at local level that enable students, parents, staff and communities to have a voice in the running of their schools so that schools work together for the benefit of communities ‘
Notes to Editors
1. The Socialist Educational Association (SEA) is the Labour Party’s only education affiliate
2. For further information or an interview, James Whiting can be contacted via 07971423814