The SEA has a long and proud history. It goes back to the formation of the National Association of Labour Teachers in the 1920s and was widened out and renamed the “Socialist Educational Association” in 1959. Since then our membership has included teachers, lecturers and academic researchers, school support staff and administrators, students, Councillors, Governors, parents and others with a general interest in education. Between us we have a fund of expertise and experience on all aspects of education. This has enabled us to participate in national and local discussions about education at all levels and in all forums. We seek in particular to inform and influence the development of education policies by the Labour Party, to which we are affiliated.
The SEA’s basic aim has always been to promote a comprehensive, non-selective education service, based on equality of opportunity and life-long access to excellent provision, within which compulsory education is free, well resourced and organised within a local democratic framework. The SEA is committed to developing policy which is based on research and evidence of what works in the UK and abroad. Like the NHS, locally accountable community comprehensive schools – both primary and secondary – are successful and popular expressions of our values and we champion them.
At the present time our main emphasis is on the need to develop democratic and comprehensive alternatives to marketisation and privatisation, which divide communities and increase inequality. Our recent proposals have included the following:
- To develop a single, broad and inclusive framework for the curriculum from early years to adult education. This should include choice, depth, breadth, stretch and progression and value what learners know and can do so that all learners can be proud of their achievements. We want to see an alternative to the bewildering choice of qualifications, which can limit opportunities and lead to segregation by social class.
- To develop ways of targeting educational investment to reduce inequalities and promote achievement as an alternative to regressive spending cuts which hit the poorest hardest. This means keeping educational routes open for all learners throughout life.
- To promote a system of fair admissions, administered by the local education service, and the ending of selection tests.
- To put inclusion and equal opportunities at the heart of education provision and discrimination and segregation tackled in all their forms. The needs of every child, including those with SEN and disabilities, should be fully met.
- To promote the development of local authority frameworks providing strong local support and oversight of all local schools
RELATIONSHIP WITH THE LABOUR PARTY
The SEA is the only educational organisation affiliated to the Labour Party and can be described as its critical friend. It participates in the National Policy Forum and Labour’s Annual Conference and has access to members of the Shadow Education Front Bench. We also have a Parliamentary branch which includes Labour members of the Education Select Committee.
We believe that Labour’s policies on education should be based on our core values of equality, democracy and solidarity. The SEA is currently seeking to engage with the Party to firm up its education policies to ensure that the final Election Manifesto fully reflects the policies agreed at the National Policy Forum and to develop future policies in line with our aims. The SEA has also been working with a number of other organisations in the “Reclaiming Education” group to mobilise opinion around what policy changes should be seen as priorities for an incoming Labour Government.
Membership of the SEA is open to all members of the Labour Party and to other supporters of our educational objectives, the only proviso being that SEA members should not belong to another political party. The SEA welcomes affiliation by CLPs, trade unions and trade union branches. Our policies are democratically decided at Annual Conferences open to all members together with delegates of affiliated bodies, and between Conferences by an elected NEC.
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