Picking up the Pieces – A Better Future for our Schools

With less than two years before the next General Election, there is an urgent need to develop a new schools framework for a new government. The one thing we need to learn from Michael Gove and the Tories is the need to be ready for government, ready to hit the ground running to make the changes that will be so badly needed in 2015.

That will need the development of a clear, principled agenda for action and the support of stakeholders of all kinds. We need to start to build this agenda now.

It is for this reason that a number of organisations have come together to set out the principles that will need to underpin “a better future for our schools”. The document identifies ten areas where the government is failing dismally. It then sets out the key directions that will need to be followed after 2015.

Underpinning our approach is the belief that that all aspects of the school system are connected and all contribute to the core aim of raising standards for all. So no part can be ignored. But under this government, everything is fragmenting as a crude marketization takes hold. That’s why we’ve given our campaign the title “Picking up the Pieces”

Amongst the key messages we’ve identified are the need to:

·           listen to the stakeholders who tell us that skills, qualities and attitudes are as important as knowledge;

·           stop the centralisation of power in Whitehall and restore it both to teachers and to local communities;

·           stop wasting energy and resources in conflicts over how and by whom schools are governed;

·           promote collaboration rather than competition;

·           value every kind of achievement not just the narrowly academic;

·           reassert the values of public service and prevent schooling being turned  into a privatised business run for profit;

You can find the full document at http://www.pickingupthepieces.org.uk/betterfuture.html. We recognise that this is only the beginning of a process. There is much to do to develop these proposals into detailed action plans that can be implemented.

But the first stage is to develop a consensus about the direction of travel. Our hope is that this initiative will contribute to that process and that the debate around it will help to clarify what a new government should be aiming to achieve.

To this end, we are holding a launch meeting at the House of Commons on Wednesday 12th June from 6.30 to 8.30. It is open to anyone with an interest in debating and developing such a programme. Amongst the speakers will be Fiona Millar and Kevin Brennan MP (Shadow Schools Minister).

 As well as coming to this meeting we want to encourage people to:

·           send us your comments to views@pickingupthepieces.org

·           use the document as a starting point for debate in any organisation that you’re involved with whether it’s a political party, a parent group, a trade union branch or any other kind of group.

·           post your ideas on the Labour Party policy review website http://www.yourbritain.org.uk/

·           tell people about it through Twitter and Facebook

·           circulate the document to your own contacts. If you run a blog you’re very welcome to re-use or adapt this post.

·           write to the press – local or national – in support of the ideas.

·           join the Socialist Education Association (http://www.socialisteducation.org.uk/) and/or the Campaign for State Education (http://www.campaignforstateeducation.org.uk/)


But above all, make your voice heard.

This document has been developed and is endorsed by the Campaign for State Education, the Socialist Educational Association and Information for School and College Governors. It will be published in the summer edition of the journal Forum.

If you want to come to the House of Commons meeting on 12th June, please let us know by writing to launch@pickingupthepieces.org

One Comment on “Picking up the Pieces – A Better Future for our Schools”

  1. Richard Hatcher says:

    This is a very useful set of policy proposals, but there is one key issue which is not adequately addressed: sponsors of academies by private organisations. Let’s be clear, ‘sponsor’ is one of those weasel words that attempts to sanitise what in many cases it really means: the ownership and control of chains of state-funded schools by private organisations unaccountable to their local communities.

    What does the document say about sponsors?

    2.3. Require all state funded schools and any linked trusts and sponsors, the DfE and all government agencies to be accountable for their decisions and for the use of public money by complying with freedom of information and publishing data of all kinds.

    8.3. Require all trusts and sponsors to publish full details of their activities and their financial affairs as is normally required of public bodies;

    In other words, the document accepts that these private chains will to be allowed to carry on running schools under a Labour government as they are now. This should be unacceptable to any socialist. The full integration of academies and free schools into a reconstructed local authority system requires that no school is controlled by an external organisation. (This is not intended to affect denominational schools.) All academy and free school Funding Agreements should be rescinded, and the governing bodies of schools which were previously academies should be re-formed to ensure that they have the same composition as maintained schools. (NB David Wolfe’s presentation at the CASE conference in November demonstrated that there are no major legal obstacles to doing this.) If a school wants to continue a partnership with an ex-sponsor it should be able to do so, but this does not require any power to be handed over to it from the reconstituted governing body – and let’s see how many of these millionaires who run chains of academies suddenly lose their enthusiasm for education when they are asked to support but not control.