Join the Education Policy Debate at SEA Events in November

As we approach the General Election, the policy debate in the education world is getting more lively. Many organisations are seeking to have an impact on the decisions that a new government will take including unions, think tanks and a wide range of pressure groups. SEA and its partner organisations are actively joining in the debate.

After playing a significant part in the formation of Labour policy at July’s Policy Forum, SEA is now promoting two key SEA events during November. We hope that as many people as possible will come and make a contribution to the debate.

They are:

The Caroline Benn Memorial Lecture

On Tuesday 11th November, Dr Selina Todd will give the Caroline Benn memorial lecture which will be followed by an open debate. This is held annually in memory of a past president of SEA and a formidable campaigner for progressive and comprehensive education. Selina Todd’s recent book “The People: The rise and fall of the working class 1910 to 2010” has been compared in significance to E P Thompson’s seminal work on the 19th century working class.

Her theme will be “The Golden Age of the Grammar School – exploding the myth”. For some this may seem more history than a current issue. But as Fiona Millar reminded us in yesterday’s Guardian, 11+ selection takes place still in at least part of a quarter of local authorities. The fallacy that selection supports social mobility is widely promoted and needs to be challenged at every opportunity.

So this event is hugely relevant to our debates today. It is a free event and will be in the House of Commons at 6 pm. Please book your place by e mailing

Reclaiming Education – Priorities for the Next Government

On Saturday 15th November, the Reclaiming Education alliance of which SEA is a part, is putting on its autumn conference on the theme of “Reclaiming Education – priorities for the next government”. The speakers will be Sir Tim Brighouse, Mary Bousted (General Secretary ATL), Laura McInerny (journalist and writer) , Professor Richard Hatcher Birmingham City University and , Dr Nicola Rollock (Deputy Director of the Centre for Research in Race & Education at Birmingham University) with of course ample opportunity for debate and questioning.

The conference will be in the Birmingham Council House, Victoria Square, Birmingham B1 1BB. You can book on line at or contact

The focus will be on the seven priorities for 2015 and beyond that have been developed through the series of conferences and that we’ve held since 2010. They are:

1. The National Curriculum should be what it says- a curriculum for all children in all English schools. As originally promised, it should be a curriculum to which all children are entitled, broadly based, balanced and designed to promote children’s emotional, as well as intellectual, development.

2. No school should be allowed to choose its pupils. Admission to schools should be fairly administered according to well understood rules drawn up by a locally elected education service. Selection tests must end. No child should be branded a failure at 11.

3. Inclusion and equal opportunities need to be at the heart of education provision and discrimination and segregation tackled in all their forms. The needs of every child, including those with SEN and disabilities, should be fully met.

4. All schools should be treated equally and funded according to a common formula which responds to pupils’ needs.

5. All schools within the same area should work together, rather than compete against each other. A locally elected education service should guide, support and monitor schools as well as take decisions on school places.

6. The inspection system, perceived by schools as hostile and threatening, should be replaced by one
which is supportive, as well as rigorous. Standards should be agreed through a national consultation process and inspectors should help schools by developing and sharing successful practice.

7. All those whom we employ to educate our children should have qualified professional status.Continuing professional development should be an entitlement and requirement for all staff. Unqualified staff should be given appropriate training to become qualified.