Walthamstow’s children have been let down

Estimated reading time: 4 minute(s)

I’ve been asked to commit to 6 promises by the Stop School Cuts campaign:

  1. Reverse cuts to per-pupil funding suffered since 2015 for every school
  2. Guarantee new money from the Treasury to reverse the cuts
  3. Restore funding to all ages and needs, including early years, SEND and post-16
  4. Provide a ten-year funding plan so schools can plan for the long-term
  5. Address historic underfunding by levelling up all areas of the country
  6. Fully fund new commitments such as pay rises and other new costs

I am a product of the education system in Walthamstow, and now, as a father of school-age children, I continue to have a great deal of interest in our educational system and how it is failing both children and teachers. I am also a firm believer in life long education and the benefits it brings to society. It was partly the Green Party’s vision of what the education system could be, that inspired me to join the party in 2014.

I believe our children have been let down by cuts, not just to the education system, but right across the board. I also believe that funding is just a starting point for making things better, so I am happy to back this campaign wholeheartedly.

Successive Governments have been letting our children (and teachers) down. Teachers need the time and space to discover what interests their students have, and use that knowledge to encourage and inspire them to fulfil their potential. Sadly we have a system of teaching to the test and an almost factory-like approach to education, which is destroying teacher morale and introducing further unnecessary stress to children. Education should not be a money-making scheme.

A sustainable society relies on education, therefore a Green Government would:

  • Reverse cuts to per-pupil funding suffered since 2015 for every school.
  • Guarantee new money from the Treasury to reverse the cuts.  The Green Party would increase this by at least £4 billion.
  • Restore funding to all ages and all needs, including early years, SEND and post-16.  We would do this by freeing schools from rigid tests and inspections and to enable more outdoor education and reverse the programme to turn schools into academies.  Removing charitable status from private schools will make it fairer. For SEND we would make buildings and curriculum accessible in your local school and fully support them.  Specialist schools would be retained for those that prefer that option. For Post- 16 our manifesto plans to raise the funding rate and we will revive Further Education, by creating a capital expansion fund for sixth form providers.
  • Provide a ten-year funding plan so schools can plan for the long term. by relaxing public borrowing which is at its cheapest, and restoring local democratic control by devolving education power back to local education authorities.
  • Address historic underfunding by levelling up all areas of the country. We would do this by offering a fairer and simpler tax and spend policy, unleashing a revolution in the redistribution of wealth.
  • Fully fund new commitments such as pay rises and other new costs.  We will do this by increasing funding to match inflation.

Our manifesto plan to unlock education will:

  • Focus funding to reduce class sizes down to under 20 in the long term, to help teachers focus on individual pupil needs and create a pleasant learning environment.
  • Free schools from centrally imposed testing regimes, OFSTED inspections, rigid national curriculum and league tables. Teachers will be trusted to plan their lessons and assess progress according to the needs of their pupils, not to meet one-size-fits-all measurements that currently cause huge stress to pupils and teachers alike. Formal education will start at 6 years, to allow young children to develop at their own pace. Those under 6 will remain in early years education, with a focus on play-based learning and access to nature. Sweden has hugely benefited from using a similar system.
  • Strengthen the link between schools and the communities they serve, by ending academisation and bringing all schools back into the control of democratically elected local authorities, not private companies, and empowering local authorities with the responsibility and accountability for education within their communities.
  • Replace OFSTED with a collaborative system of assessing and supporting schools locally, to improve standards and be accountable to the communities in which they serve.
  • Create a fully inclusive education system, where children with special education needs are able to access their local school and are fully supported in that school. This means ensuring accessible buildings, an inclusive curriculum and the provision of specially trained teachers across the school system. Specialist schools will be retained, for when children and parents would prefer that option.
  • Introduce an English Climate Emergency Education Act to support schools to teach young people about the urgency, severity and scientific basis of the climate and environmental crises, and to ensure youth voices are heard on climate issues. We will also enable more outdoor lessons, where children will learn more about nature, animals and the environment, and a new Nature GCSE.
  • Restore arts and music education in all state schools, to enable children to develop their creative potential.
  • Make sure all children get at least a half-day equivalent of sports in school and encourage both the use of schools sports facilities by the community and participation in regional and national sporting events by our young people.
  • Remove charitable status from private schools and charge full VAT on fees. The private school sector will be subject to regular independent audits, to ensure private schools improve accessibility and pay their taxes in full.
  • Ensure that all children receive the basic elements of a good childhood: a decent place to live, safety and security in their community, time and space to play, as well as opportunities to learn and develop inside and outside of school.
  • Revive the further education sector to provide a wider choice of academic and vocational learning. We will also raise the funding rate for 16–17-year-olds, followed by an annual rise in line with inflation, at the same time as introducing a capital expansion fund for sixth form providers.
  • Fully fund every higher education student and scrap undergraduate tuition fees. University will be fully accessible, with courses being offered as learning experiences, not as pre-work training. Education will be for education’s sake.
  • Write off existing debt for former students who studied under the £9k tuition fee regime.
  • Increase funding for adult education across England and Wales, creating a range of new adult education programmes for learners to access. These programmes will be integrated with Green New Deal training projects.

More details can also be found on our long-term-view of education.

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