This the proposal for our central headline policy on education. I choose this because there seemed to be a lot of enthusiasm for it at the last manifesto meeting on March 19th, and in the education group at the event on March 5th - plus it's something that wouldn't require too many more powers for London. My one concern is it might seem a little dry and unexciting. But it does express our values re democracy, local control, equality etc. See what you think.
We want communities, education workers and students to have control over London's education system - not the Government or Ofsted. We will create a democratically-run London Education Authority to so that schools, colleges and universities in London can plan, coordinate and cooperate rather than compete. Unlike with the Tory government's academies and "free schools", education workers, communities and students will have elected representation and regular participation in running our city's education.
- Recent education reforms have essentially abolished local education authorities, meaning chaos and competition in education. Our policy will restore local coordinating bodies - but in a radically democratic form.
- Will start as arrangement between different schools, colleges and universities that want to be part of it - until London has the powers to establish this properly. We should demand these powers for all regions of England.
- To be part of this new London Education Authority, schools would have to: 1) recruit students from geographic catchment areas rather than through selection by tests or fees, and 2) meet the requirements of being a "social justice employer", e.g. all staff and contractors paid at least £10ph(?), 35 hour maximum working week, unions encouraged, maximum wage of £70K (?).
- The London Education Authority would allow participatory planning of the curriculum: teachers, experts, community groups and students could develop projects that cut across different subject areas, creating real links with communities and encouraging real citizenship. Deptford Green School is one school already using a similar model for their curriculum.
- The London Education Authority would run teacher training through the London universities and participating schools / colleges etc.
Other possible headline policies from March 5th event / demands / March 19th meeting:
- A right to study: education should be like the NHS, in that everyone has a cradle to grave right to access education; this should be a substantive right in that, for instance, students should not have to worry about finance - which would mean abolishing fees, having generous grants and bringing down the cost of student accommodation. NB: This is really a matter for national policy at this stage, but this could certainly be an aspiration.
- Education for democracy - good citizenship education that teaches life skills, info and ideas about what kind of society we are, and students' role and potential power in our democracy. NB: this could be incorporated into the London Education Authority idea.
So the headline policy proposal is achievable within the existing GLA structure, to our knowledge? If so, then I think it would make sense to have the Right to Study as the sexy headline policy/principle/long term aim, and the London Education Authority secondarily as an achievable but less sexy policy.