Monday, 29 March 2010

Dave's Dozen Education Demands: Open letter from Dave Hill, Professor of Education and TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) parliamentary candidate for Brighton Kemptown to the parents and teachers of Brighton Kemptown

Open letter from Dave Hill, Professor of Education and TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) parliamentary candidate for Brighton Kemptown to the parents and teachers of Brighton Kemptown

30 March 2010

Dave Hill is Professor of Critical Education Policy and Equality Studies. He is one of the foremost writers on education and equality in Britain today. His latest book, of 17 published, is Equality in the Primary School: Promoting good practice across the curriculum, (Continuum Books). (Google Dave’s dozens of publications ).

He has spent his lifetime as a teacher in `challenging’ primary and secondary schools and in teacher `training’ and in universities trying to tackle inequalities in schooling- inequalities that result in millions of working class children having far less educational opportunities- and subsequently, usually lower paid jobs- than the children of richer parents, especially the 7% who go to private schools- and snap up most of the highest paid, elite, jobs.

Dave comes from a working class family brought up in some poverty, for example on free School Meals (like a million others!) in St. Martins’ St., off the Lewes Rd., Brighton. He went to Westlain Grammar School, his brothers to secondary modern schools, such as Queens Park and Moulscoomb. Dave’s children went to local state schools. The inequalities Dave has witnessed- and lived- as a child, and as a teacher and socialist political activist, have led him to spending his life fighting for greater equality in education and society., and against racism, sexism and against homophobia.

Dave says `it is incredible .. actually it is only too believable… that in Britain today, the richest section of society have 17 years of healthy life more than the least well-off in society. The minimum wage should be raised by 50%. How can people- decent hard working people like some in my own family, live on take-home pay of less than £200 a week! And there should be a maximum wage, too! Nobody, banker, boss, or buy-out bully, should be on more than £250,000 a year- not when there are 4 million children living in poverty! I was once one of them. I was helped by the welfare state. We need our public services. We need to improve them, not cut them, not attack them’.

`All three parties, New Labour, LibDem, Tory, dance to the music of big business. All are promising cuts. Whatever they say, those cuts will hit schools, children, and the quality of education in our state schools. Already we are seeing staff cuts and course closures in universities up and down the country. In Brighton, for example, both Brighton and Sussex Universities are promising to cut out the nurseries. Brighton Uni is proposing to cut its Adult Ed art courses. Vandalism! Cutting popular and widely used public services!’

And don’t believe cuts are necessary. The’yre not! Cutting the Trident nuclear submarine replacement programme, bringing troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq, stopping the Identity Card programme, and even some collecting the £120 billion in taxes unpaid by the rich… yes, £120 billion!...would mean cuts are not necessary at all! But you won’t hear that from the other parties, just from Socialists, like the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.

Dave’s dozen point education manifesto is:

1. Cut class sizes (they are currently some of the largest in the rich world- much larger than in private schools for example). According to OECD research Britain is 23rd out of 30 developed countries in terms of large class size. Other countries such as Finland have a maximum class size of 20. Finland is widely seen as providing an extremely high quality of education. For a maximum class size of 20 by 2020 in both primary and secondary schools!’

2. Abolish league tables and abolish SATS (some external testing is necessary, but SATS often restrict teaching to `teaching to the test’, result in undue stress (and an increase in bedwetting, compared to the pre-SATS era, for example).

3. Restore local democratic control of `Academies’. They should be run by the democratically elected local councils, and keep to national pay and conditions agreements. Why should rich businessmen and women take control of any of our schools? Let’s keep the added investment- but it’s the government that pays for that added investment anyhow! Our schools and the children in them are not for sale!

4. Private profiteering out of our schools! Bring back the education services hived off to private profiteers back into either national or local private ownership! These include Ofsted, Student grants, school meals, cleaning and caretaking.

5. Free, nutritious, balanced school meals for every child to combat poor diets, obesity, and… yes… for some children… hunger!

6. Restore free adult education classes in pastime and leisure studies as well as in vocational training/ studies and Restore free funded residential centres and Youth Centres/ Youth clubs for our children so they can widen their experiences of life in safe circumstances and enhance their education beyond the confines of the home or city.

7. For a fully Comprehensive Secondary School system, so that each school has a broad social class mix and mix of ability and attainment levels. For the integration of Private schools into the state education system- so that the goodies of the private school system are shared amongst all pupils/ students. All schools to be under democratic locally elected local council control. No to Private Schools. No to religious groups running schools. No to big business / private capital running our schools and children!

8. Free up the curriculum so there can be more creativity and cross-subject/ disciplinary work. Encourage Critical Thinking across the curriculum. Encourage children to `reach for the stars- and to work for a society that lets that happen- a fairer society with much more equal chances, pay packets and power.

9. Proper recognition of all school workers, and no compulsory redundancies. For teachers, secretarial and support staff, teaching assistants, school meals supervisory assistants, caretaking staff, there should be workplace democratic regular school forums in every school. Regarding jobs (for example the threatened job cuts at Sussex University- and the `inevitable’ job cuts in every? school after the election- no compulsory redundancies- any restructuring to be conditional on agreement with the unions. As with point 12 below, where there are falling pupil numbers, this should be used to cut pupil teacher ratios, not teachers’ jobs!

10. Setting up of school councils – o encourage democratic understanding, citizenship, social responsibility, and a welcoming and valuing of `student/ pupil voice’.

11. Ensuring that schools are anti-racist, anti-sexist and anti-homophobic- making sure schools encourage equality, welcome different home and group cultures.. As part of this, anti-bullying practices in every school must be fully implemented, to combat bullying of all sorts, including racism, sexism, homophobia, and bullying based on disabilities. And this should be not just in anti-bullying policies, but also be part of the curriculum too!.

12. A good, local school for every child. No school closures! “Surplus places” should actually mean lower class sizes! And increased community use of school facilities.

Dave says-

`in my jobs, firstly as a teacher, and now as a Professor of Education I have been round hundreds of schools. Many of them are brilliant. Schools in the poorest areas, schools in better off areas! Brilliant. But, with better funding, smaller class sizes, an end to competition between schools (if every school is a good local school) and with more professional judgement being allowed for teachers- then I look forward to a time when all state schools match the class sizes and results of the currently more lavishly funded private schools’.

Vote Dave Hill- the Education Candidate in Brighton Kemptown

Vote Dave Hill- The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate