Afterwork recognises that trained and experienced teachers probably know a bit more about education than a bunch of politicians who’ve never had a proper job.
We will stop adding new subjects to the school curriculum every five minutes or dictating the content of existing ones.
We will continue to provide free school meals for the youngest children, even though we shouldn’t have to. We will continue to pay the pupil premium to give the neediest children a better chance, but we may need to think about continuing to link it to free school meals, for obvious reasons.
We recognise that “one size doesn’t fit all” and will support a mixture of school and educational styles.
We recognise that large schools can provide a broader curriculum and cost-effective facilities, but can be impersonal and lack the social cohesion of smaller units. We will give schools the freedom to experiment with different physical and organisational structures e.g.by functioning across sites, working in clusters or sharing resources.
We recognise the social and educational value of mixed-sex schools, whilst acknowledging that single-sex teaching can produce better educational outcomes. We will support schools that wish to experiment with single-sex teaching, especially in subjects which have been traditionally gendered and will evaluate the outcomes. If this can encourage more girls to pursue STEM subjects or boys to engage with English Literature, then we should stuff political correctness and get on with it.
We will encourage schools to make a range of practical and non-academic subjects available. We will allow schools to employ suitably qualified and experienced people to teach these subjects, even if they haven’t got degrees. Needlework will be optional.
We will reduce testing. Whilst recognising that there will continue to be a place for traditional exams, especially for those pursuing academic subjects, we will question the need for everything to be examined. We will challenge educationalists and employers to explore alternative ways of evaluating and acknowledging the achievements of young people.
We will demonstrate our confidence in the teaching profession by working with them to reduce needless bureaucracy.
We recognise that education is far too important to be left to schools. We will promote policies of fair pay and fair working hours so that parents and others have time to spend with young people either within the family context or through voluntary activities.
We will develop a network of Skills and Apprenticeship Colleges. These may be based on existing Colleges of Further Education (or whatever they’re called these days), within other educational institutions or run by large employers. These will be adequately funded and open to all, regardless of age, recognizing that people need to gain new skills or update existing ones throughout their lives. We will encourage employers to provide training opportunities.
We will promote on-line and distance learning, but recognise that it is not the answer to everything or the answer for everybody, even if it’s cheaper.
Whenever we feel the tempted to micro-manage, we will write out 100 times “We must resist the urge to constantly meddle with education”. If we were privately educated, we will do it in Latin.