Nottingham meets the Modern Robin Hood, Jeremy Corbyn

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Jeremy Corbyn has met tremendous support for people all around England, Scotland and Wales. This has not been seen in the Labour movement for generations.

Take a LOOK at the queues waiting to listen to Jeremy Corbyn speak in Nottingham, home to the original Robin Hood.

This has been nothing short of astonishing. LISTEN to the event here, in high quality audio.

Unite the Union hosted the rally  in Nottingham and  present these Speakers:

Jeremy Corbyn MP
Richard Murphy, Tax Research UK and Economics Advisor to Jeremy’s campaign
Manuel Cortes, General Secretary TSSA Union
Annmarie Kilcline, East Midlands Unite
Tony Kearns, CWU
Nadia Whittome and Umaar Kazmi, young Labour members
Chaired by Cheryl Butler, Leader of Ashfield District Council

From this NG Digital site you can listen to the excellent quality audio of this  event, or download the file on ITunes

Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign for the Labour leadership has electrified the contest and brought new ideas to a stale political system. He is Labour’s best chance of defeating the Tories at the next election and bringing back voters lost to the SNP, the Green Party and UKIP.

We should all share Jeremy Corbyn’s Vision for Education

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We should all share Jeremy Corbyn’s Vision for Education

By Naomi Fearon, previously Published here on Labour Futures

Recently we have seen Jeremy Corbyn announce his proposal for a National Education Service. This proposal is based around what Jeremy sees as the fundamental and underlying principle of education which is, “A collective good that empowers society and the economy”. It is worth noting that our education system has undergone some changes these last few years, most of which have included cuts, further privatisation through academies and free schools, more curriculum alterations and a continued rise in tuition fees. It is clear that Jeremy genuinely values education and the profession, stating in a written address to The Socialist Educational Association (SEA), Labour’s only educational affiliate, that, “In a fast changing world where new technology is making new jobs and breaking old ones, and information of every kind is instantly available, we need an education system that opens minds and imagination”. In this address he also referred to teachers as “dedicated” and was scathing of the fact that teaching by some, has not been valued as a specialist skill. With such clear passion and vision for education, it is not hard to see why Jeremy has won the supporting nomination from The SEA.

Through the National Educational Service proposal, Jeremy outlines his belief that like our NHS, the education system should be ‘from cradle to grave’. Further education has taken quite a battering over the last few years with the adult skills budget being slashed by 40% since 2010. The Association of Colleges (AoC) has predicted that if the spending cuts continue at their present rate the actual budget outside of apprenticeships will be reduced to zero by 2020 with no public funding remaining for any courses outside higher education and the student loan scheme. In his National Education Service proposal, Jeremy has stated that he would reverse the cuts and would look to significantly expand the adult education service. This would be funded by a 2% rise in corporation tax and would enable anyone of any age regardless of their background or circumstances to retrain or learn something new, opening up a wide range of opportunities.

At the opposite end of the education spectrum, Jeremy is keen to ensure that all children have equal opportunity to pre-school education. A report in 2014 by The Family and Childcare Trust showed that many parents in Britain are paying more for childcare annually than the average mortgage bill. The trust says childcare in England, Wales and Scotland is becoming increasingly unaffordable with a 27% rise in costs since 2009, while wages have remained static. Rightly dismissing what he calls the false dichotomy between early years and adult education, Jeremy argues for free universal childcare recognising that the current system is patchy and rather costly to say the least stating that, “Some families who are very poor can get a place, those who are well off can pay and everyone in between has to make their own arrangements”.

Recognising that education is a right and should not be a privilege, Jeremy has called for the abolition of tuition fees and the restoration of maintenance grants. He has proposed that free university should be funded through a higher rate of national insurance on the highest earners and by bringing Britain’s paltry rate of corporation tax up from 20% to 20.5%. Both the National Campaign against Fees and Cuts and the Labour Campaign for Free Education are supporting Jeremy for leader and unsurprisingly he is proving popular with university students, many of whom are turning up to see him at rallies. Tuition fees have been a widely contested issue since their introduction in 1998 under New Labour, with continuous demos from students calling for their removal. The abolition would be a welcomed policy by many and ensure that anyone entering Higher Education would not be saddled with a large burden of debt once they left.

Hot on the heels of tackling one controversial issue, Jeremy has been unafraid to take on another; academies and free schools. Academies since their introduction in 2000 have again, like tuition fees, been a widely contested issue. Whilst a few individual academies and free schools may do well, overall the programme has been a failure. In January of this year, the House of Commons Education Committee concluded that

“It is too early to judge whether academies raise standards overall or for disadvantaged children” also stating that “Academisation is not always successful nor is it the only proven alternative for a struggling school”.

Ofsted’s 2014 annual report stated that

“It is too early to judge the overall performance of free schools”.

These findings, along with continual financial scandals and the closures of some free schools has continued to paint a rather grim picture for the already unpopular programme. Jeremy voted against the introduction of both types and schools and has called for them to be taken back under local authority control. As Jeremy puts it “Why was it believed the ability to run a business, to sell cars or carpets might make you best-placed to run a school?” Recognising that schools should be accountable to parents and communities and not private market interests and board rooms, Jeremy would seek to rebuild our much fragmented school system.

Amongst Jeremy’s education proposals, it is important not to forget that Jeremy clearly values teachers. Any key element of a successful working partnership should be trust, co-operation and communication clearly something both Michael Gove and Nicky Morgan have failed to comprehend. It is no secret that the relationship between the teaching profession and the government has been anything but harmonious with previous education secretary Michael Gove referring to the profession as ‘enemies of promise’ and a ‘Marxist blob’. With relations showing little signs of thawing, any incoming Labour leader would need to defend our much maligned teachers against such attacks. Government figures from last year show that teachers are working up to 60 hours a week with many leaving the profession altogether. Jeremy recognises that the profession has been highly demoralised stating,

“Let’s thank and value teachers, and try to reduce the stress levels. I talk to a lot of teachers and so many say, ‘I would love to recommend teaching as a career but I don’t want anyone to do what I have had to do. The pressure is too great.’ That should not be so.”

Jeremy is right to address this issue as in order to have a world class education system we need to ensure that teaching is an attractive profession, not one full of over-worked and over-stressed teachers – many of whom are leaving in their droves.

It is clear that Jeremy knows that education should be lifelong and based around creativity, democracy, co-operation and equal opportunity – this is a vision we should all share.

A First Class Education is a Right, not a Privilege

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While the Conservatives pursue a policy of Academisation, which is privatisation through the back door, and which has been proven to be failing and while politicians discuss polcies which continue fifty years of disappointments, it is refreshing to hear at least, that Jeremy Corbyn has plans for a National Education Service, which should have been introduced in 1945. While there is a privileged system, while it is a matter of the school you went to which determines your path in life, rather than your skills, there is something rotten.

This post from CJ Stone shows how important it is that everyone has the opportunity for a first class education. It shows that policies touch people’s lives.

By CJ Stone, Previously Published here

A First Class Education is a Right, not a Privilege

I was sad the hear of the closure of the Chaucer Technology School earlier this year as my son was a pupil there.

When Joe failed his Kent Test he was very depressed. We chose the Chaucer as the only school looking anything like a comprehensive in the area at the time. In order to get into the school he had to do another test; which he passed, with flying colours.

This cheered him up no end.

Joe went on to get three A levels and a First Class Honours degree. He now works in the photography industry as a freelance technician and is much in demand for his skills and his practical intelligence.

The Kent Test would have condemned him as a failure at the age of eleven. It was the Chaucer which gave him the confidence to discover where his real intelligence lay.

I’m puzzled at how the Chaucer ended up failing as a school. When my son went there, in the nineties, it was a first class institution.

My own schooling was undertaken at Sheldon Heath Comprehensive School in Birmingham. It was the first specially built comprehensive in the country and the largest.

That too, like the Chaucer, went through emergency measures recently. It closed and was re-opened as the King Edward IV Sheldon Heath Academy in 2010.

And yet the school that I went to was anything but a failure. It was a flagship school of the newly devised comprehensive system and served me and my contemporaries very well. A number of my friends went on to get degrees and to forge successful careers.

The only explanation I can think of is that successive governments have messed around so much with the education system, pulling it first one way, and then the other, that they have undermined the very foundations of education in this country.

The latest news is that the Chaucer is likely to re-open at some point in the future, but as a secondary, rather than a technology school, which sounds like an admission of failure to me.

A first class education is a right, not a privilege,

and should be available to all.

This is Undeniable Evidence that Academisation has Failed.

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Academisation is Failing – Now Evidence is Undeniable

There is mounting evidence that Academisation is failing.  Recently the South Shore Academy in Blackpool was blasted by OFSTED as inadequate. This is sponsored by the Bright Futures Academy Chain. Schools are being forced to convert to Academies against the will of parents or staff. Clive Lewis (Labour MP, Norwich South) has opposed the plans  of Inspiration Trust Academy Chain to takeover the Hewett School in Norwich.

Who is sponsoring the Academisation of schools? The Guardian list.

Today is the last date at which evidence can be submitted. The Public Bill Committee for the Education and Adoption Bill has requested written evidence. This Committee’s stops accepting written evidence today (14 July).  Teachers know that controversial announcements for changes in education policy are always buried in the summer holidays. The powers-that-be think it will be all forgotten by September.

Henry Stewart, Local Schools’ Network has collated data which shows very clearly that schools which are sponsored academies are much more likely to subsequently be found inadequate following OFSTED inspections. The data currently is confined to sponsored academies in the secondary sector because there is currently insufficient data from primary sponsored academies to collate significant results. But there is no reason to suppose that this would indicate a different trend.

A secondary school is twice as likely to stay 

inadequate if it is a sponsored academy 

Likelihoo-to-become-inadequate Further information and analysis of these statistics which have been collated from OFSTED reports is presented in Henry Stewart’s Report in Local Schools Network

In summary:

    • If a secondary  school is rated Requires Improvement, it is over twice as likely to become Inadequate if it is a Sponsored Academy 
    • If a secondary school is rated Good, it is almost four times as likely to become Inadequate if it is a Sponsored Academy
    • If a secondary school is rated Outstanding, it is almost three times as likely to become Inadequate if it is a Sponsored Academy

Ideology or Evidence?

“Converter academies, schools that were already Good or Outstanding, do not appear to have the same problem. The higher likelihood to stay or become inadequate is specific to sponsored academies. However this is the academy model that is being proposed for “inadequate” or “coasting” schools under the Education Bill.

The evidence seems to indicate that, in terms of Ofsted rating, a school is more likely to improve and less likely to stay or become inadequate if it is not a sponsored academy. This may be because most sponsored academies are part of academy chains, whose problems are clear from DfE data. With only 4 of the 20 biggest chains showing above average results, in terms of value added, the solution of giving an “underperforming” school to a chain needs to be closely examined.

The Bill now goes to the Education Select Committee. Let’s hope that they choose to base their view on the evidence and not on ideology.”

These findings match those of the National Audit Office which found informal interventions such as local support for schools in difficulties were more effective than formal interventions such as academy conversions.

Clearly, the agenda to date has never been about improvement in schools, and even more worrying is, because of that there is little concern for the children and individuals whose lives are affected. It has always been ideological, about privatisation. The conflict of interest engendered by whole scale privatisation is evident. Competition between schools results in their isolation, and centralised  services supporting  special needs such as CAMHS , SEN, home tutors are lost. Schools work better in LEAs or teacher managed consortia, not privatised businesses.