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Greens plan to bring Free Schools and Academies into Local Authority control

Graham Wroe sm

Sheffield lecturer Graham Wroe will be promoting the update of the Education Policy at The Green Party conference this weekend.

Update – the motion was passed and became Green Party policy on Saturday 1st March 2014

Graham comments,

“Unlike the other parties, the Green Party still decide our policy at conference by democratic debate. It is time to renew our Education policy so I have proposed amendments to make it ready for the important elections in 2014 and 2015.”

If  passed, the new policy will include opposing performance related pay for teachers, replacing OFSTED with an independent National Council for Educational Excellence, bring Free Schools and Academies into Local Authority control, ensure all teachers are properly qualified, abolish SATS and Year 1 phonics tests and ensure schools are funded according to need rather than status.

Graham Wroe explains,

These policies will be very popular with educationalists and parents, particularly those currently concerned by moves at Fir Vale Academy to introduce intelligence testing as part of their recruitment process.”

The full text of the Education motion is:

Revising the Education Policy

Proposed by: Martin Francis, Romayne Phoenix, Lisa Murray, Richard Clark, Nicole Haydock, Tim Turner, Livio Pavone, Graham Wroe,

Synopsis:

The amendments and additions in this motion update policy through amendments and additions which take into account recent developments in education. It is hoped that the resulting clarity and sharper focus will be of practical help in the forthcoming local and General elections.

 

Present Policy Introduction

Present ED010

The Green Party believes that education should provide every one of all ages with the knowledge and skills they require to be able to participate fully and contribute to the society in which they live. This is not just academic knowledge, but social skills, life skills, and respect for other people’s rights and lifestyles.

Amendment: Delete all and substitute:

ED10 The Green Party believes that education should provide everyone with the knowledge and full range of skills they require to participate fully in society and lead a fulfilled life. The Green Party rejects market driven models of education that see its role only in terms of international economic competitiveness and preparation for work.

 

Present ED011

We want to develop an education system that will nurture a desire to learn throughout life. We will do this through a child-centred approach to learning which builds on the skills and interests of each individual child.

Amendment: Add new sentence:

We will therefore end the current testing regimes and rigid age related benchmarking.

 

Present ED012

Education should be at the heart of communities and for communities, and should promote equality, inclusivity, social and emotional well-being and responsibility.

Amendment: Add at end

And democratically accountable to them.

 

Present ED013

Education is a right and an entitlement and should be free at the point of delivery to people of all ages.

Amendment: Add new sentence:

Education is social rather than market provision and we oppose any attempt to privatise state-funded schools or to enable them to become profit-making.

 

Add new EDO14

Free schools and academies, although publicly funded, currently lack local democratic accountability and oversight. We will integrate them into the local authority school system.

 

Add new ED015

The Green Party recognises the key role of Local Authorities in the planning and provision of new school places, establishment of fair admissions policies, ensuring of equality of access for Looked After Children and those with disabilities and special needs, and the provision of School Support Services. We will therefore strengthen local authorities through adequate funding and seek to enhance their local democratic accountability. We will review and reduce the powers of the Secretary of State.

Add new EDO16

EDO16 All teachers in state funded education will be employed through local authorities and have QTS (Qualified Teacher Status)

 

Early Years

Present ED021 :

Many teachers believe that it is more appropriate to start academic learning at least one year later

Amendment: Delete all and replace:

 

The Green Party believes that the early years is a unique educational stage in its own right and not just a preparation for school. We recognises the great variance in children’s development in the early years and the importance of a developmentally appropriate  provision which includes the important role of play in early learning

 

Assessment

Present ED051

ED051 There is currently too much emphasis on national tests and fulfilling marking schemes, which can oppress teaching and learning and create a great deal of unnecessary pressure on children as young as 7. Teaching and learning are too often dominated by meeting targets and ticking boxes both for teachers and for pupils

Amendment:

Delete ‘7’ and substitute ‘5’. [i]

 

Present EDO54

ED054 The Green Party will abolish external SATS exams.

Amendment: add:

and the Year 1 Phonics Test

 

Present ED056

Ofsted Inspections will be revised with quality teaching inspections similar to those in Wales, combined with spot check inspections and staff and student evaluations.

Amendment: Delete and substitute:

The Green Party will instate a system of local accountability using continuous, collaborative assessment of schools. We would replace OFSTED with an independent National Council of Educational Excellence which would have regional officers tasked to work closely with LAs. The National Council would be closely affiliated with the National Federation for Educational Research (NFER).

 

Present ED057

Where school standards are reported this will be through value-added results and through the results of school inspections which will include  school self-evaluation

 

Amendment: Delete all and substitute;

Where pupils’ attainment and progress is reported as part of a school’s holistic report to parents and the wider community it will include assessments, including value-added, moderated by the National Council of Education Excellence and the local authority’s School Improvement Service as well as the school’s own self evaluation.

 

Structure and Accountability of Schools

Present ED076

ED076 Students will have a right to attend meetings of the Governing Body and members of the School Council will have voting rights.

Amendment: Delete and substitute:

Secondary and college students will have a right to attend meetings of the Governing Body and members of the elected School Council will have voting rights. Governing Bodies in primary schools will have the duty to regularly consult with the elected pupil School Council.

 

Present EDO78

ED078 The Local Authority and Inspectorate will be involved in monitoring the structures to ensure there is consistency of standards and level of involvement and to help to share best practice.

Amend to substitute ‘National Council of Educational Excellence’ for ‘Inspectorate’

 

Add new ED079

ED079 The Green Party will encourage schools and colleges to set up Parent Forums or Parent Councils to enhance the school’s accountability and improve communication and collaboration over issues such as curriculum, provision, homework, attendance and behaviour management.

 

Year-round Opening of Schools

Present ED080

Well-equipped school buildings represent a key community resource, which should be used to the full. In parts of the USA, schools/learning centres are open every day throughout the year, from 8.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. Families, pupils and teachers select their own periods of attendance, what they study or teach, and when they take holiday breaks. School capacity can go up 30% or more, meaning

no rationing of places, or (b) less need to establish new schools, or (c) smaller classes, or some combination of all three of these features.

Amendment EDO80

Add to first sentence ‘throughout the year’ and delete all after the first sentence.

 

Size of Schools

Add new ED104

We would restore the right of local authorities to plan and build new primary schools of an appropriate size. [ii]

 

Admissions

Present ED110

Our underlying vision is that every child and young person will be entitled to attend their local community school and for needs to be met on an inclusive basis.

Amendment: Delete ED110 and substitute:

Our underlying vision is that all children and young people are entitled to access to a fair, comprehensive and equal education system, regardless of their background.

 

Present ED111

Currently vast sums of government money are spent on Specialist Schools and Academies, both of which restrict how a school chooses to spend its money. In practice, schools often decide on a specialism just to get extra funding, regardless of whether that specialism is needed in the area. Children rarely choose their school on the basis of their specialisms as they are likely to attend their local school. Even if this weren’t the case, it would still not be appropriate for children as young as 10 to decide on their specialism and could discourage attendance at local community schools.

Amendment: Delete ED111 and substitute:

Currently there exists a range of inequality within our education system. This can often stem from unfair admissions processes, particularly in private schools, grammar schools, faith schools, free schools and academies. These processes often serve to work against already the most disadvantaged young people in our society (such as those from poorer backgrounds or ethnic minorities). In order to provide an equal opportunity for all young people then admissions must be as balanced and fair as possible.

 

Amendment: Add new ED112 and move existing ED112 to Different types of Schools section as ED126:

ED112 Selection by aptitude, ability, or social class runs counterproductive to creating a high quality education system for all students. Excellent all-ability schools with balanced intakes are the best way of ensuring that every child receives a first-rate education

 

Present ED114

Admissions structures will continue to be determined at a local level, which will encourage placing young people at the local school. In the longer term Faith Schools, Academies and private schools will conform to the same admissions criteria as Local Authority schools

Amendment: Delete all and substitute:

ED114 The local authority will determine admissions arrangements for all local state funded schools. Ideally young people will be placed at their local schools. However currently, due to the social and economic characteristics of different areas, placing children in their local schools can be a source of segregation and inequality. Therefore local authorities should aim to provide schools (particularly secondary) in their local area with a balanced, comprehensive intake as far as practically possible

 

Amendment: Add new policy point:

ED115 Green party policy fully supports the inclusion of all young people in mainstream education. There may be very exceptional cases where this may not be in the best interests of the young person – see Inclusion and Special Educational Needs section for explanation of this.

 

Different Types of Schools

Amendment ED120:

ED120 Delete first two sentences (‘Many different types of schools currently exist, including comprehensive schools, boarding schools, public schools, specialist schools and ‘alternative’ schools such as Steiner schools. In the state sector there are also specialist schools and schools for young people with special needs’)

and replace with:

A range of different types of schools exists and is being extended through academies and free schools. Currently diversity of provision is rapidly creating fragmentation and a lack of democratic accountability. The Green Party recognises that we do not yet have a fully comprehensive system of education.

 

Amendment ED121

At end of first sentence (‘The Green Party acknowledges that there is a need to embrace a diverse range of educational approaches.) add:

within state-funded education.

 

Present ED123

There is a need to address why people choose to send their children to private schools. All comprehensive schools need to reach higher standards, with smaller classes and a diverse choice of subjects.

Amendment: Delete all and substitute:

State funded schools need sufficient finance to offer the smaller classes and varied curriculum that exist in many private schools.

 

Present ED 124

Children with a high level of ability or who are from a background where education is highly valued are likely to have a positive influence on the learning experience of their peers. Many of these young people are learning in the independent sector. This creates additional challenges to schools in the state sector and is to some extent causing social divisions in society. Overall standards are shown to be higher in mixed ability environments therefore the Green Party wants to create a system which facilitates and encourages greater integration.’)

Delete all and substitute:

The Green Party recognizes that the current mix of local authority, private, faith, grammar, academy and free schools reinforces social and ethnic divisions in society. A truly comprehensive intake and mixed ability teaching, coupled with equitable funding based on need, will extend equality of opportunity. We will therefore create a system that facilitates and encourages greater integration.

 

Add ED126 (Transferred from 112 Admissions)

The Green Party will redistribute all available money to all schools according to their needs rather than their status.

 

Academies

Amendment:

Change heading to Academies and Free Schools

 

Present ED130

Academies are often introduced to deprived areas as the only chance the school has to attract funding. Buildings and land which belong to the state are leased to a private sponsor or outside body. In the case of an Academy this private sponsor decides what the school’s specialism will be, what the curriculum will be and what wages individual teachers receive. The sponsor does not have to know anything about education yet has the power to make these crucial decisions.

Amendment: Delete all and substitute:

ED130. Academies are free to determine the admissions arrangements, curriculum and teachers’ pay and conditions of service and are ultimately answerable to the Secretary of State rather than the local authority within which they are located. Academies remove control of buildings and the site from the local authority through long leasing agreements with the Academy Trust or sponsor [iii]

 

Present ED131

The sponsor has the power to appoint the Board which appoints the Principal and the Governors. In some academies the parents have the right to vote for as little as one parent governor. This also removes the democratic control by local authorities of institutions that are financed by national and local taxation

Amendment: Delete all and substitute:

There is a democratic and accountability deficit in academies with the Sponsor or Trust having the power to appoint the Board which appoints the Principal and governing body members.  Parent governors, who may be as few as one, may be appointed rather than democratically elected and the make-up of the governing body often has a built in Sponsor or Trust majority. Local authority representatives are not always appointed to the governing body, yet the local authority, although it has no power to intervene in an academy, retains the overall responsibility for children and young people’s provision in the authority. This removes democratic control by local authorities that are financed by national and local taxation.

 

Present ED132

Academies can often take power away from parents, teachers and pupils regarding how the school is run. As with Specialist Schools the funding being offered can only be spent on certain things, for example in the case of an Academy the money is released for a new building so the school cannot choose to have a cheaper building or retro-fit existing buildings instead and spend the remaining money on,

Amendment delete ‘As with Specialist Schools’ in second sentence and begin ‘The funding being offered…’

 

Add new ED133 and renumber accordingly:

ED133 The Free Schools programme initiated is similarly democratically unaccountable with even more power handed to the Free School providers to decide the curriculum, admissions policy and whether to employ unqualified teachers or headteachers/principals with no formal teaching experience or qualifications. [iv]

 

Present ED133 now renumbered as 134

In the short term, where Academies are in operation, we would instigate a maximum 25% voting rights for sponsor appointees to ensure proper democratic and community representation on Academy boards ‘)

Amendment: Add new beginning sentence:

ED134 For these reasons the Green Party is opposed to creating more Academies and Free Schools and will support community, school and parent campaigns that share this aim. The Green Party will integrate Academies and Free Schools back into the local authority school system.

 

Teachers

Present 210

Teachers are the key resource within the education system. They need first class initial preparation, continuing professional development and appropriate salaries.

Amendment: Add

Every child should be taught by a teacher with Qualified Teacher Status and Principals and Headteachers of state funded schools should have QTS.

Present ED211

A Green government will work with the teaching unions to reverse the process by which teachers have gradually been deskilled and their professional autonomy eroded

Amendment: Add

and will review pension arrangements and retirement age with them.

Add New ED212

The Green Party opposes the introduction of performance related pay in education.[v]

Notes in this motion:

i The Phonics Test is currently taken in Year 1 when the child is 5 or 6 years old.

ii The current primary school places crisis in some areas and the Government’s ban on local authorities building new  schools has resulted in primary school expansions creating schools of more than 840 4-11 year olds and reduction in play and other shared spaces.

iii The academies programme has undergone changes under the Coalition Government and there are now a range which include academies with a single private sponsor, academy chains, local authority schools that have voluntarily converted to academy status without a sponsor, and local authority schools that have been forced to convert to a sponsored academy as a result of an unfavourable Ofsted inspection.

iv The Free Schools programme takes a disproportionate amount of funding from the main education budget and may be housed in inappropriate buildings with a lack of classroom space and outside play area. Free Schools do not have to be built in areas where there is a school place shortage and have often been set up in areas with surplus places. There have been controversies in terms of financial mismanagement, staff qualifications, equality of access and safeguarding with some expensive new schools opening with very few pupils.

v Good teams of teachers support each other by sharing resources and strategies and cooperate to ensure all students have the best possible education. Performance related pay destroys cooperation as teachers are encouraged to prove that they are doing a better job than their colleagues in order to win a pay rise. Teachers are likely to negotiate achievable rather than challenging targets to ensure that they will be met and this will impact on the rate of school improvement. Research has shown that performance related pay is demotivating to education staff.

 

Topics: Education, General, Graham Wroe, Policy

There are 6 Responses to Greens plan to bring Free Schools and Academies into Local Authority control

1st March 2014

Motion passed!

Profile photo of Graham Wroe
4th March 2014
Profile photo of Graham Wroe
4th March 2014
Profile photo of Graham Wroe
4th March 2014

Labour don’t plan to reverse the Tory education changes.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-26405714

  • Pingback: Greens are standing up for education. | Sheffield Green Party

  • 20th May 2014

    Most ofthe changes are very welcome and seem eminantly sensibly; a really thorough job. I’m delighted that the reference to Steiner Schools has been dropped; I wrote to the Green Party several times about that issue as it contravened both our Science policies and our Anti-racist policies so it’s great that action has been taken. But it would have been nice to have had a reply other than, “we’ll get back to you” from your predecessors. Many thanks nonetheless.

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