Labour Conference Report
Education was not the flavour of month at conference this year with only five CLPs putting forward our motion. The topic was not prioritised for debate. Rule changes, cutting the number of CLP motions which can be debated from 10 to 6 mean it will be much harder to get education on the agenda next year.
To draw attention to our Give Us Back Our Schools Campaign, I moved the reference back of the clause about schools needing to be at the heart of their communities in the Education Policy Commission report, because the document did not explain how this aim could be achieved. It carried. You can see the speech here.
We also managed to make an impact on the fringe. This article from Schools Week draws attention to our role in pushing the anti-academies agenda. We held a packed meeting attended by 87 people whilst the main conference was still in session. Chaired by Baroness Blower, speakers included Kim Johnson MP, John Mcdonnell MP, Julia Voce from the local Moulscombe school campaign, Kevin Courtney, myself and Kate Green MP (Shadow Secretary of State). All speakers supported our aim of returning all schools to local democratic control apart form Kate who appeared to indicate support for schools moving away from failing trusts as well as for ideas Kevin Courtney put forward on what an incoming Labour government could do immediately, to reduce the power of MATS.
At the meeting Julia Voce spoke movingly about Moulscombe Primary School’s fight against forced academisation. Whilst they have had to concede defeat on the takeover itself, they have gained a union recognition agreement. The transfer of ownership takes place on November 1st. Please send messages of solidarity to Julia at email@example.com on the day. She will pass them on to staff and parents.
We also attended and intervened in a meeting about school collaboration organised by the EPI and ASCL as well as attending an NEU meeting about assessment reform. At the EPI meeting Tulip Siddiq MP (Early Years Shadow) spoke against any further ‘disruption’ to schools which a return to local control might mean. Ironically her borough Camden has kept all its locally maintained schools and with Camden Learning established to ensure collaboration with new free schools, there would be minimal change. Our intention is not to disrupt the internal workings of schools anyway but give a voice back to parents, teachers and local communities. Peter Kyle MP (Schools Shadow) spoke about his experience as a governor in turning round a failing school aided by an academy trust and saw advantages of the academy model in some circumstances. There are, now using the government’s own performance data , failing MATS. They are not the answer. Instead, LAs should have the power taken from them by local management of schools, to intervene in these circumstances.
Our Give Us Back Our Schools campaign made a successful intervention at conference raising the issues around who controls our schools. Find out more about the campaign from our Facebook Page where you can also find model motions for union branches.
Up and Coming Events
1. Caroline Benn Memorial Lecture Tuesday Nov 23rd 6:30pm
Keri Facer, Professor of Education and Social Futures, Bristol University.
‘Organising Hope: Schools in the Time of Climate Change’
Register here for the zoom stream of the event. Email me if you would like to come in person to Hamilton House NEU HQ to hear the lecture. Spaces are limited.
2. Education and Climate Crisis Meeting Saturday Nov 27th 2pm
The main teaching unions and Unison have just written to the government as this article in the Guardian outlines.
Manchester Uni have developed a green PGCE and the Manchester Environmental Education Network has done much to promote climate change education in schools.
The meeting will take place in the Mechanics Institute .
As soon as speakers are confirmed I will send out another brief email.
New Ed Politics
Finally, here is a link to the new edition of Education Politics (Sept 2021, Issue 145).
Socialist Educational Association (SEA)