Education is under threat internationally from the values and practices of free market capitalism, which pits school against school, parent against parent, the wealthy against the poor, and child against child, all under the myth of ‘choice’.
The choice only really applies to some families and is linked to the idea of league tables and ‘winners and losers’. League tables have forced schools to concentrate on examination results or risk take-over or closure. We don’t want any people to be considered losers in our education system. The mirror of ‘competition’ distorts the real purpose of education.
Education is a fundamental human right. It empowers and informs individuals and allows them to develop to their full potential. It is also a source of creativity, innovation, understanding, discovery and design that are of immeasurable value to society as a whole. It is therefore a prerequisite for any genuinely democratic society.
In order to bring this vision into practice we support the principle of lifelong learning: that learning and the development of understanding is a process that takes place throughout life to the benefit of the individual and society at large.
There should be full or part-time state nursery school education up to the age of 6 with emphasis on play-based learning and outdoor activities. All schools will be inclusive, and progressive teaching methods will be evaluated and encouraged – and all young people will be entitled to free, inclusive field trips and school journeys.
All academy and free school funding agreements will be rescinded. Fee paying for schools will be abolished. Academies, free schools and fee paying schools will be removed from the control and/or ownership of private organisations, they and all their property and resources will be fully integrated within a single, statutory model of school governance, and funded by local authorities according to a national formula.
Left Unity would withdraw state funding from schools or colleges which exclusively promote any one religious belief system, including Christianity, unless such establishments have an open, secular enrolment policy.
Rather than attacking teachers’ pay and conditions as other parties do, Left Unity wants to support teachers. Their pay will be determined through national negotiations and not on a ‘performance’ basis. We support equal pay and conditions of service across the entire spectrum of teaching institutions including the chronically underpaid sector of early years. We will end the exploitation of teaching assistants.
We will preserve and improve the public sector pension schemes which apply to permanent and supply teachers and support staff, and return to locally funded supply pools of teachers.
Students and teachers are far too stressed by regular examinations. We propose to end constant assessment, testing and grading of students, replace the national curriculum with an advisory core curriculum, and bring in a nationally agreed set of assessment tools that move beyond booklet examinations and give all students and teachers a range of ways to express their progress.
We will provide free and healthy school meals for all pupils.
State education needs to be funded and free at the point of use, all the way from nurseries to university level.
All students would be guaranteed up to six years free further and higher education – and this would include a living grant.
Left Unity is active in movements and campaigns across the left, working to create an alternative to the main political parties.
Events and protests from around the movement, and local Left Unity meetings.
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