ED001 This education policy is structured into the following sections. Sections 3-18 inclusive focus on learning for school-aged children. As outlined in the Introduction the Green Party believes that education is important throughout life. There is less need for specific policies on life-long learning as there will be as much autonomy as possible and most issues can be addressed through general principles; this is in no way intending to reflect the lack of importance we feel should be attached to it. We hope by setting out an appropriate system for compulsory learning that this will nurture in everyone a desire to continue learning throughout life.
ED002 Where necessary we have included a preamble to the policies to help to explain them
- Early Years
- School starting and leaving age
- Youth Schools
- Structure and Accountability of Schools
- Size of Schools
- Different types of Schools
- Grammar Schools and mixed ability learning
- Home-based Education
- Inclusion and Special Educational Needs
- Faith Schools
- Health in Schools
- Food in Schools
- Environmental Education
- Teacher Education
- Post-16 and Further Education
- Higher Education
- Life-long Learning
ED003 In accordance with general Green Party principles, decisions about education will be devolved to the most local level that is possible. However in order to ensure equal opportunities, accessibility and standardisation of qualifications there will be a need for monitoring by Local Authorities regarding issues such as the quality of education, the range of options offered and consistency of internal assessment. This will in turn be monitored centrally both for consistency and to share best practice.
ED004 It is important to preserve both diversity of opportunity and equality of opportunity for students (of all ages) in an education system which encourages social cohesion.
ED010 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.
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. We will therefore end the current testing regimes and rigid age related benchmarking.
ED012 Education should be at the heart of communities and for communities, and should promote equality, inclusivity, social and emotional well-being and responsibility and be democratically accountable to them.
ED013 Education is a right and an entitlement and should be free at the point of delivery to people of all ages. 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.
ED014 Free Schools and Academies, although publicly funded, currently lack local democratic accountability and oversight. We will integrate them into the Local Authority school system.
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.
EDO16 All teachers in state funded education will be employed through Local Authorities and have QTS (Qualified Teacher Status).
Early Years education
ED020 The Green Party acknowledges that in many countries academic learning is not introduced before the age of 7.
ED021 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 recognise 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.
ED022 In accordance with the values outlined in the Introduction there will be an emphasis on social cohesion, play, relatedness and character building as well as knowledge and skills particularly in the early years.
ED023 We will move towards a system in which early years education extends until the age of 6. This will mean that academic learning is not introduced until the age of 6. That does not preclude those who wish to enter their children into school earlier from doing so.
ED024 Free nurseries and early years education combined with Citizens’ Income would help to create structures that encourage and support parental involvement and nurture in these important years. We would build upon and continue successful schemes such as Sure Start.
ED025 All early years establishments must enable regular outdoor access for children.
ED026 As with our policies on schools, early years establishments will be small enough to provide community units with continuity and consistency of staff for all children and small enough to provide a safe and secure environment as a base for children’s exploration of the environment and social relationships. They will be within walking distance of children’s homes in urban areas.
ED027 There will be greater health involvement in these important years and health visitors will make regular visits to all early years establishments.
School starting and leaving age
ED030 We will conduct pilot projects and create all-through schools such as those in Scandinavia, which can alleviate the challenges of transition between schools and strengthen community cohesion and relations between staff, parents and pupils. This would be in the context of smaller schools (see Size of Schools). This may include a change at the age of 14 where social and emotional development suggests this is a good time for a new start in a more adult atmosphere and when aptitudes and likely career paths are easier to diagnose. From this age education may be provided in co-operation with workplace learning/training.
ED031 It will be compulsory for all young people to be educated between the years of 7-16. From the age of 14 this may be provided through a variety of contexts including through skills and practical training, vocational placements and at Youth Schools.
ED032 In addition to curricular education, a comprehensive and inclusive youth service (Youth Provision) will be provided for all between the ages of 11 and 20. This servcie will be staffed by fully trained youth workers and funded by Local Authorities as a statutory service. It shall include, but not be limited to: youth clubs, youth councils, personal development courses, non-curricular education and training.
ED033 We would protect the funding of the UK Youth Parliament and facilitate a yearly debate in the House of Commons chamber, to encourage participation in democracy from a young age.
Curriculum for school-aged children
ED040 According to Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, children’s opinions on what and how they are taught should be taken into account. Children and young people’s own interests and enthusiasms are the natural starting-point for productive learning, the roots from which a broad curriculum can grow.
ED041 Therefore the National School Curriculum will be replaced with a set of learning entitlements (listed below), in the context of which learners and teachers together will develop curriculum content to suit their needs and interests. Children and young people will be entitled to experience of:
- How to engage with learning, and how to develop speaking, listening and thinking skills.
- Emotional literacy and well-being, social skills and physical well-being including education in sex and relationships which will build on existing good practice. This will be achieved through a broad learning environment (see below) and through more rigorous teacher training which focuses on these issues. A greater emphasis on the arts will facilitate greater self-expression and help to deliver this. (see Culture Media and Sport )
- The development of essential numeracy and literacy skills and the existing core subjects including scientific literacy, technical understanding and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills.
- The Environment, through both formal study and practical work to give young people direct contact with nature and the opportunity and ability to interact with their local environment. To this end, Primary schools will be enabled to give all pupils the equivalent of one hour per school day of quality outdoors time that involves some experience of nature. At least one free summer camp place to be available to all students between ages 11 and 16 offering outdoor experiences.
In addition 10,000 annual work-placements will be created for teenagers with national wildlife charities to open employment opportunities for young people of all backgrounds.
- Practical life skills such as basic cooking, Do It Yourself (DIY) skills, First Aid and managing of bank accounts.
- Citizenship. The agenda for Citizenship will not be determined by central government but instead by an independent body (such as the Politics Association). This would include, above all, experience of the democratic process through being involved in the running of their own school community as well as understanding the history of and the politics and political structures of the local area and country.
- Learning a wide-range of languages from the age of 7:
1. These must include English until the age of 16, and British Sign Language (BSL) as a second language until the age of 13.
2. For students in Wales, these must include Welsh until the age of 16.
and a learning environment:
- Which is free from fear and the sense of failure
- Which provides education in social skills and relationships through cooperative and participative learning including group work in all areas of the curriculum and which encourages responsibility in young people, for example by enabling them to organise trips and activities.
- Which caters for and encourages a variety of interests, intelligences, skills and talents
- Which, through pupil-centred learning, will cater for and encourages different learning styles, appropriate to the individual and, if applicable, their Special Educational Needs
- Which enables children and young people to become self-directed learners, who will be equipped to take advantage of learning opportunities throughout their lives.
- Which promotes outdoor and physical activity and learning about the environment at first hand
- That is free from advertising and marketing, where the values and stereotypes employed in advertising and marketing can be explored, discussed and, where necessary, challenged.
See also AG612 on education in Agriculture
ED042 Sex and Relationship Education (SRE) should be age-appropriate, start at a sufficiently early age and continue throughout young people’s education. As part of the SRE curriculum, children should be fully aware of puberty before it happens, relationships should be taught as well as the physical aspects of sex and the potential consequences of sex before sexual activity begins. As part of SRE access to sexual health services should be made available in secondary schools, either on site or integrated with local young people’s sexual health services.
ED050 A healthy education system would include a broad range of cumulative, formative and summative assessment, including self-assessment. Assessment should be unobtrusive and in the interests of enhancing the learning of the individual child.
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 5. [i]
Teaching and learning are too often dominated by meeting targets and ticking boxes both for teachers and for pupils.
ED052 Currently many people specialise in their subject choice at a very early age. Achievement in practical and vocational subjects is still held in lower esteem than academic achievement.
ED053 In order to promote the aims of education outlined in the Introduction and encourage and give importance to the broad range of subjects and learning styles outlined in Curriculum (ED041), assessment of social, creative and emotional skills should be developed.
ED054 The Green Party will abolish external SATS exams and the Year 1 Phonics Test.
ED055 The Green Party will abolish league tables in their current form as they give an over-inflated impression of schools with a higher ability intake which can contribute towards problems with admissions.
ED056 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 Local Authorities. The National Council would be closely affiliated with the National Federation for Educational Research (NFER).
ED057 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.
ED058 Outcomes of different types of assessment will feed into local and national strategies for educating the individual child.
ED059 School leaving qualifications will encourage a broad curriculum that gives equal value to academic, vocational, creative and practical subjects.
Structure and Accountability of Schools
ED070 In order to maximise engagement and good communication between parents, students, teachers and other staff and the wider community, there will be considerable efforts to ensure that all parties are democratically involved in the running of the school through School Councils and Governing Bodies.
ED071 Being a governor is a great responsibility yet there is often little training and no remuneration for the role, thus making it inaccessible to some.
ED072 The relationship between and responsibilities of the Head and the Chair of the Governing Body must be clearly outlined.
ED073 There must be clear systems in place for the Head and the Governing Body to report back to the rest of the school.
ED074 Schools will provide training appropriate to the role of being a governor.
ED075 Governing Bodies will be properly funded to acknowledge the high level of responsibility granted to people and to remunerate people for their time where necessary so that the role is equally accessible to everyone who wants to do it.
ED076 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.
ED077 In accordance with Green Party philosophy the running of the school will be devolved as much as possible to the school within the above guidelines.
ED078 The Local Authority and National Council of Educational Excellence 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.
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
ED080 Well-equipped school buildings represent a key community resource, which should be used to the full throughout the year.
ED081 We will conduct pilot projects to explore the benefits of all-year- round opening of schools; at the same time, we will also encourage greater community use of school buildings and equipment.
Size of Schools
ED100 In the long run we would work towards class sizes of 20 at both secondary and primary level.
ED101 We would also work towards having smaller schools with a maximum size of 700 for secondary schools. There is evidence that smaller schools have a more positive ethos which can reduce behavioural problems. It would also enhance a sense of community and encourage a greater proportion of people to be involved so that they are more democratically run as well as reducing the need for transport to school.
ED102 Existing large schools will be supported to reorganise internally into smaller communities (‘mini-schools’).
ED103 Existing small schools will be protected, and developed as community resources rather than closed. They will be encouraged to become partners with nearby schools where possible, to share resources and specialist staff. Small schools threatened with closure, particularly in rural areas, will be encouraged to merge with one or more other schools within the Local Authority area. Each school would remain in their individual locations and retain their own identities but be managed by a single headteacher working within one overall budget.
ED104 We would restore the right of Local Authorities to plan and build new primary schools of an appropriate size. [ii]
ED110 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.
ED111 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 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.
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
ED113 Many of the existing problems in our admissions system stem from the emphasis on SATS and League Tables, both of which the Green Party will abolish (see Assessment).
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.
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
ED120 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. All young people have a right to receive a high standard of education at their local school, regardless of their background, where they live and what their financial background or level of ability is.
ED121 The Green Party acknowledges that there is a need to embrace a diverse range of educational approaches within state-funded education. Ultimately this diversity will be available to all young people without discrimination of any factors such as financial background.
ED122 The state currently subsidises independent schools, for example through paying for places for children of parents working in jobs such as diplomats, the British Council, and the military sector. This highlights the need for the state to fully represent the diversity in our education system, for example by increasing the number of state-funded boarding schools.
ED123 State funded schools need sufficient finance to offer the smaller classes and varied curriculum that exist in many private schools.
ED124 The Green Party recognises 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.
ED125 We will continue to aim for all community schools to provide everyone with an education which will fit everyone’s individual needs through a diverse curriculum which offers choice and is appropriate for everyone’s needs and ability. (See Curriculum) However, we recognise that some people will still want to be educated outside mainstream schools.
ED126 The Green Party will redistribute all available money to all schools according to their needs rather than their status
ED127 Schools which remain in the private sector would be classed as a business and have all charitable status removed; they would pay all relevant taxes such as VAT and Corporation Tax. All state sponsored scholarships would be directed to Local Authorities and remaining private schools would be asked to contribute to a national initial teacher training levy.
Academies and Free Schools
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]
ED131 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.
ED132 Academies can often take power away from parents, teachers and pupils regarding how the school is run. 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, for example, more teachers.
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]
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 into the Local Authority school system.
Grammar Schools and mixed ability learning
ED140 The grammar school system decides which young people are likely to succeed academically when they are only 11 years old with a single test which many consider to be a poor indicator of ability and skills. For those who fail this can take opportunities away from them and cause them to lose confidence in their abilities at an age when they are only just beginning to explore learning. The system can also cause social divisions. Evidence shows that the overall standard of achievement is higher where people are educated in mixed ability environments.
ED141 For these reasons the Green Party will allow no new grammar schools and gradually integrate grammar and secondary modern schools into the comprehensive system.
ED142 We will encourage mixed ability learning in all schools as far as possible.
ED150 We support parents’ rights to educate their children in settings other than at school.
ED151 Any interactions between the Local Authorities and home educators should empower and assist the family and should be supportive, rather than invasive. Local Authorities should seek to build positive relationships with local Home Education community groups and organisations and make broader educational experiences (participation in cultural events, work experience programmes, etc.) accessible to home educators.
ED152 All schools will be obliged to offer home-based pupils part-time school attendance agreements if requested.
Inclusion and Special Needs
ED160 There are many positive benefits for everyone in being educated alongside people with a variety of needs and abilities and this will lead to a more integrated society. The Green Party supports the principle of offering all people the opportunity to be educated in a mainstream school, and meeting everyone’s needs, whatever the level of need may be, in accordance with the UK Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
ED161 In exceptional cases it is not appropriate to be fully integrated into mainstream education for all subjects, for example where there are multiple learning difficulties. There are children with behavioural difficulties and emotional difficulties who need to be protected by temporary separation. In the longer term the Green Party hopes to address this through having special resource units in mainstream schools.
ED162 – The Green Party would investigate how best to ensure that schools are diverse, and not actively segregating ethnic or religious communities. Any such scheme should balance the need for a local school against making school a place where different communities’ children grow up together. Where school catchment areas lead to de facto segregation in schools, the local authority and schools should facilitate the children mixing with other local schools. Schools with large minority and excluded populations should be given extra support and funding.
ED163 – We would introduce more targeted educational interventions for groups of students identified as vulnerable to not do well academically based on their demographics
ED164 – We would grant schools greater freedom to recognise religious holidays, cultural celebrations and secular observations in the school calendar. Schools should have the freedom to mutually agree, between parents and teachers, ways of celebrating and accommodating time off for such yearly events
ED165 Every disabled learner will have an entitlement to an assessment of his / her learning needs. This will identify equipment and facilities required, curriculum differentiation and learning styles, and any educational professional and personal assistance that is needed
ED166 In addition to Special Needs Coordinators, schools will employ appropriate professionals such as counsellors. They will provide support and, if appropriate, early diagnosis for young people with mental health needs or behavioural problems. Where behaviour is preventing someone from learning they will be supported with an Individual Learning Plan which may include activities outside the school environment whilst still remaining on the school roll, including working with their families and within their local communities.
ED167 Local Authorities may explore ways of meeting particular needs, for example, one school in an area can cater for people with visual impairment and another school for hearing impairment.
ED168 There will be a programme to increase the capacity of all mainstream schools to include disabled children which underpins the UN Convention for Persons with Disabilities. Ultimately some special schools may continue to exist. This will include schools for extremely gifted and talented students, for example specialist music schools, dance schools and sports colleges. Whether to attend a mainstream or a special needs school is a very sensitive decision and will be taken by the parent and young person together with the advice of a special needs coordinator.
ED170 Education should include a celebration and recognition of religious and cultural diversity and spirituality. Education should encourage critical engagement with, and non-dogmatic exposure to, diverse, sometimes competing, worldviews and beliefs – whether based on culture, religion or spirituality.
ED171 Within that framework the Green Party recognises the right of parents to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
ED172 We recognise the importance of human values and the moral dimension in learning, and the role they play in different belief systems.
ED173 We will seek to cater for these rights and needs through ensuring that children and young people can practise their faith in schools, for example by providing prayer space for those who need or wish to practise their religion regularly.
ED174 At the same time we will abolish the requirement for a compulsory daily act of worship. Schools which choose to continue to hold acts of worship will provide an alternative activity for learners who choose not to take part. Pupils who do not participate in worship will not suffer any form of discrimination.
ED175 Religious instruction, as distinct from religious education in understanding different religions may only take place outside of school curriculum time.
ED176 No publicly-funded school shall be run by a religious organisation. Schools may teach about religions, comparing examples which originated in each continent, but are prohibited from delivering religious instruction in any form or encouraging adherence to any particular religious belief.
ED177 Privately-funded schools run by religious organisations must reflect the inclusive nature of British society and become part of the Local Authority admissions system. This non-discriminatory approach will be extended to staff who must not be discriminated against in faith schools due to their own faith either in seeking employment or during employment.
ED178 Opt-outs from equality and diversity legislation will not be allowed for faith schools and they will not be permitted to promote homophobia or transphobia on the grounds of religion.
Health in Schools
ED180 Schools and teachers will continue to have a duty of care towards young people. Whilst we recognise that parents are likely to have a significant influence on their child‘s personal development, it is very important to promote this through the school, as outlined in the Curriculum section.
ED181 There will be regular health checks in schools and a return to school nurses with health personnel trained to work alongside teachers in schools.
ED182 As part of their duty of care schools will have strong and effective anti-bullying policies which will recognise the vulnerabilities of children from different backgrounds to the majority of pupils or who are LGBTIQA+ or have learning disabilities.
ED190 It will be a minimum requirement that all children are provided free of charge with a balanced nutritious lunch including local and organic non-GM food, free from additives. Vegetarian, vegan, religious and other dietary requirements will be catered for. Vending machines will only supply healthy snacks and not crisps, carbonated drinks and sweets. Schools will be encouraged to involve children in growing, preparing and cooking food. Not only will this provide invaluable and essential education in the importance of a good diet, but evidence shows it will greatly improve behaviour, quality of life and learning.
ED200 All educational establishments will be required to incorporate environmental education into their curriculum as part of a young person’s learning entitlement. Home educators will be encouraged to incorporate knowledge and experience of the natural environment into the delivery of an education suitable for the current and future needs of the young person.
Education Authorities should provide a support structure to offer advice and guidance on content and delivery for both schools and home educators.
ED201 Policy will adopt an experiential approach to learning, encouraging enquiry, direct experiences of, and practical involvement in the living world. To this end School outdoor areas will be adapted where possible to safely attract wildlife.
ED202 Educational establishments should themselves aim to become sustainable institutions providing a practical demonstration of sustainability and adaptive actions for all establishment members. Students should become involved in the development and management of sustainability programmes and audits.
ED203 The new educational entitlements will include the opportunity for young people to learn about food and to gain direct experience of growing food plants.
Every primary school in Britain to be twinned with a farm, backed with finance for necessary adaptation and insurance.
ED210 Teachers are the key resource within the education system. They need first class initial preparation, continuing professional development and appropriate salaries. Every child should be taught by a teacher with Qualified Teacher Status and principals and headteachers of state funded schools should have QTS.
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 and will review pension arrangements and retirement age with them.
ED212 The Green Party opposes the introduction of performance related pay in education.[v]
ED213 Provide comprehensive education for teachers, educational staff and others who work in schools including volunteers on all diversity and inclusion issues.
ED214 Equality and diversity will be monitored in recruitment and staff development for teaching and other educational staff.
Post-16 and Further Education
ED220 The Green Party believes that everyone should be able to access the type of education that is right for them within a high quality publicly funded system. The problems within the current Post-16 and Further Education system are many and varied, some relate to organization, and some to funding.
The introduction of the market into the system up to and during the incorporation of Colleges in 1992, the short term nature of funding and the limited lens of the current inspection regime all impair not enhance the opportunities available to the people who need to access Further Education.
The Green Party believes that Post-16 and Further Education institutions should be community assets, run by, and for the benefit of the local communities they serve, not “national brands” competing against each other for students and funding.
Colleges for the community
ED221 A Green Government would give Further Education Colleges an explicit remit to operate as a community asset, and the success or failure of their activities will be judged on the benefit to the wider community, not crude metrics.
ED222 A Green Government would ensure that colleges held regular feedback forums and outreach with local groups exploring the real educational needs of all in the community.
The Further Education Curriculum
ED223 The Green Party believes that diversity of curriculum delivered in Further Education is a strength not a weakness, and this should be maintained, with AS levels, modular courses and resits reintroduced.
ED224 Wider learning experiences should always be an integral part of a vocational curriculum, a Green Government would ensure that the curriculum ensures students learn about their rights, the role of trade unions, citizenship, discrimination, participating in democracy, sustainability, environmental education and health.
ED225 A Green Government would bring back democratic control of awarding bodies.
ED226 In Wales, where demand is clear this will include proper provision of Welsh-medium courses within further education colleges.
Planning Further Education Provision
ED227 A Green Government would return the Further Education Sector to the democratic control of local authorities or regional bodies.
ED228 A Green Government would instigate borough/county wide cross-sector education forums with representatives from: local unions, parents groups, student unions, community leaders, representatives from the pre-16 education sector and employers. Their role would be to map out the educational needs of the community and to develop a joint Further Education sector plan.
ED229 Struggling colleges should be given support where possible to solve problems which arise and will be encouraged to twin with stronger ones to gain experience and exchange best practice to end the merger culture that has emerged in FE.
Funding Further Education
ED230 The current funding regime in Further Education leads to short term decision making and fails to open up the sector to the people who need it most. A Green Government would seek to end the short termism, and direct funding towards supportive measures for getting more people into education.
ED231 A Green Government would:
- Abolish fees in Further Education and all courses in FE would be provided for free at the point of use.
- Write off all outstanding debt and resulting interest related to 24+ advanced learning loans provided by the student loans company to fund tuition for level 3 and 4 courses.
- Increase the funding per student in Further Education to match that in schools.
- Initiate a swift transition from the current start stop funding arrangements to a long term funding process for Further Education provision over a 10 year period.
- Place all funding bodies back under the democratic control of local authorities/regional bodies.
- As part of the transition to the citizens income, reintroduce an Education Maintenance Allowance at a level which would be effective in supporting disadvantaged students, and through a system which was clear and transparent, and not open to inconsistency in application.
- Protect and improve the current support provision for disabled students.
Democracy and Governance of institutions
ED232 The structure and Governance of institutions is essential in ensuring that their strategic direction is guided by the needs of the community, not the insular needs of the institution.
ED233 A Green Government would implement a series of governance reforms across the sector including:
- All Post-16 and Further Education governing bodies should have representation based on: 25% local community leaders; 25% local employers; 25% staff /union; 25% students.
- Student representation on all leading bodies throughout the college,
- Student unions to be allowed to organize independently of college management and to make their own decisions without direct or indirect management vetoes.
- All trade unions on campus to be included in all senior management recruitment procedures.
- Trade Union representation on all college committees to include: academic boards; curriculum and quality committees; employment policy committees and finance committees.
Quality of Provision
ED234 Ensuring that the education in post-16 and further Education is of the highest quality is essential, a Green Government would make the following changes
ED235 lecturer’s teaching hours should be no more than 19 hours a week.
ED236 The independent National Council of Educational Excellence (see ED056) would assist and develop best practice on a system of self-inspection and learner evaluation based on a negotiated developmental approach.
ED237 As a commitment to quality, where peer observation, mentoring and professional training take place, they should be paid activities for college staff.
ED238 All staff must be considered when considering educational quality. A Green government would implement full training with 5 hours remission a week to be given to all employees (hourly paid and salaried lecturers) to gain level 4 teaching qualifications.
Further Education Pay
ED239 Since Incorporation, FE Pay has fallen behind that of both School Teachers and University Lecturers, it is currently uneven across the country, with significant differences in pay between different colleges.
ED240 A Green Government would ensure:
- An immediate increase in pay to bring FE lecturers onto the same levels of pay as School Teachers and for non-teaching staff to be brought on to local government pay scales.
- National negotiated agreements to be legally binding on all colleges.
- The London weighting to be comparable with rates of other public sector workers (teachers, police, firefighters).
ED243 In order to ensure that the barriers to education which currently exist are broken down within Post-16 and Further Education, a Green government would implement:
- Regular professional development days for staff from minority or under-represented groups.
- Cross college liaison teams to facilitate the removal of barriers to participation.
- Equivalent overseas qualifications to be consistently recognized.
- Introduce a requirement to monitor achievement in minority and under-represented groups, with a view to improving this through better opportunities and removal of barriers to participation.
- Full and adequate creche provision for all staff and students.
- A thorough trade union/management/ student audit of all colleges to ensure that they are fully compliant with the latest disability legislation, and funding made available to ensure that where issues exist, that they can be solved in the most appropriate way.
- Trade unions /management/students to monitor colleges to ensure that they are compliant with The Equality Act ensuring that discrimination and bullying in workplaces is stamped out and positive duties are set.
ED250 As a Green government will be working towards sustainable living and not consumption-led growth, Higher Education, like schools and colleges, will need to change to reflect the kinds of knowledge, skills and vision that are needed. Our society will need people to be educated to the highest level of which they are capable.
ED251 Evidence suggests that the best results are achieved by people who have an active desire to study at this level when they feel ready, rather than be an automatic extension of Further Education.
ED252 Higher Education is essential in developing a civilized society. Education should continue to be treated as a process and not a product. It should enable a democratisation of knowledge and skills which are available to anyone who wants to study for a degree regardless of their age or background.
ED253 Higher Education is facing a funding crisis. Departments are closing, students are being forced to pay increasing fees for their education, lecturers are working longer hours and receiving worsening pay and conditions and the student to tutor ratio is increasing.
Governance and Organisation
ED254 Higher Education should be run and organized in a way that promotes the capacity of institutions to serve society. Universities play a significant role in society, this extends beyond the personal interests of those embarking on higher Education, well beyond the organizational ambitions of individual institutions and the expectations of those who employ graduates. It is with consideration to this, that university organization and governance should not be a private matter for those in leadership positions within the sector to decide, but should be a matter for society at large to decide on and contribute to. A Green Government would embark on a programme of reform to:
ED255 Democratise the governing bodies of universities through the allocation of equal votes to staff and student representatives, community members, and employers’ representatives.
ED256 Ensure the salaries of senior staff and vice-chancellors to be fixed as part of a nationally agreed scale with an income differential of no more than a multiple of ten.
ED257 A Commitment by employers to nationally agreed terms and conditions for all staff and recognition of trade unions to negotiate these terms and conditions.
ED258 Higher Education Institutions currently have some of the worst records for their environmental footprint, they will adhere to the same stringent regulations as large businesses and other institutions.
Funding Higher Education
ED259 The funding of Higher Education has become a tool to direct and manipulate the direction taken by institutions whilst appearing to be neutral. The current system places an undue burden on individual students and fails to recognize the societal benefits of higher learning and research. A Green Government would commit to:
ED260 An increased proportion of UK public expenditure devoted to higher education to at least the EU19 average.
ED 261 Restoration of the block grant for all subjects.
ED262 Under a green government all currently outstanding debts – yet to be paid – held by an individual, for undergraduate tuition fees and maintenance loans, and any resulting interest would be written off. Specifically those issued by the Student Loans Company (SLC) and currently held by the UK government.
ED263 Under a Green government there would be no student loans as there would be no tuition fees and living costs would be met by Citizen’s Income. In the short term we will reintroduce student grants to meet living costs.
ED264 Due to the nature of the economic growth we have been experiencing there has been a shift in recent years away from manufacture and industry-related subjects. Whilst trends in the subjects students choose to study will continue to evolve there will be sufficient funding to protect minority subjects and to cater for potential swings back.
ED 265 Under a Green government all currently outstanding Professional and Career Development Loans (PCDL) – yet to be paid – held by an individual, and any resulting interest would be written off. Specifically those issued by commercial banks under Skills Funding Agency regulations for learning providers stated on the PCDL Register.
ED266 The Green Party will support a properly funded, accessible Higher Education system which would reverse these trends.
ED267 Currently many Higher Education Institutions are dependent on international students due to the inflated fees they pay. In some cases this can lead them to accept international students who are less able than EU students who they reject.
ED268 Under a Green Government Higher Education Institutions will be properly funded by the state so that where international students are fee-paying the amount the institution charges will more accurately reflect the true cost.
A commitment to educational excellence
ED269 The quality of educational provision at university level is essential to ensuring that the clear benefits to society of Higher Learning and research are properly realized. Current models of quality assurance do not deal directly with provision and focus on the distraction of abstract metrics which fail to measure the educational process effectively. A Green Government would:
ED270 Commit to staff/student ratios at the OECD average or better.
ED271 Require universities to adopt mission statements, relevant to each institution, that recognise the obligation of institutions to foster independent and critical thought, to ensure access to the university for all social groups, and to seek the participation of the local community in the life of the university.
ED272 Scrap the National Student Survey and other forms of evaluation which perpetuate cultures of ‘customer satisfaction’ and quality control, and their replacement with forms of feedback that encourage meaningful reflection on teaching and learning.
ED273 Review the external examiner system currently utilized with a view to improving it to include a greater ability for external examiners to intervene in the organization of courses and the way in which they are taught and assessed, and to ensure the role of external examiner will have clearly defined with protected time and payment for any lecturers taking on the role for a separate institution.
Access and Equality
ED 274 In order to realize the potential of Higher Education to serve local and wider communities, and to provide the full benefits to the whole of society, they need to be institutions in which everyone is valued, which should be reflected in their student intake, employees and remuneration.
ED275 As a transition to our more comprehensive reform relating to equality and immigration, a Green Government would:
- Require a Commitment by employers to address the gender pay gap with immediate effect.
- Immediately scrap of the Points Based System of Immigration as it affects the higher education sector and a halt to punitive measures affecting the free movement of international staff and students. This would include stopping the withdrawal of the post-study work visa, the relaxation of rules affecting students’ ability to seek paid work during their studies and a more sympathetic immigration regime that encourages staff and students to come to the UK.
In addition to these measures:
ED276 Universities will offer real support to mature students and students with families. There will be a minimum requirement for Universities and Higher Education Institutions to offer a free crèche to students and staff, nappy changing and breast-feeding facilities as well as religious facilities such as prayer spaces to cater for people from a wide range of ages, religions and ethnic backgrounds.
ED277 Accessibility will be addressed through a combination of these institutions offering Widening Participation Programmes and creating a series of firm targets which will ensure increased social diversity.
ED278 The Green Party recognises that under the current system the ability of students transferring from school or Further Education to Higher Education is extremely diverse, sometimes depending on their social background or the school / college they attended.
ED279 Until this is no longer the case, in order to ensure full accessibility and high standards, institutions will be funded to offer an externally accredited Access Courses to students they consider to have the potential to study at a Higher Level but who are not yet ready for it.
ED280 At the same time schemes would be set up to provide funding both for places for less wealthy students from developing countries and at the same time to develop Higher Education in developing countries through partnership projects so that in the longer term they will not need to travel. Subject areas where there is a shortage of skills in that particular country (for example Medicine and Engineering) will be prioritised.
ED281 The undertaking of research in universities is an essential part of their work within wider society, and directly influences the ability to teach the next generation of innovators. It is essential that research is effectively funded without undue influence from those providing that funding. A Green Government would:
ED282 Commit a sufficient amount of funding to encourage independent and ethical research.
ED283 Scrap the Research Excellence Framework (REF) and its replacement with a peer review based system of monitoring research work based on respect for the ability of individuals and groups of researchers to define their own research aims and priorities.
ED284 Extend the remit of research ethics committees to consider, with teeth, the ethics of research for the arms trade, the military and the nuclear industry.
ED285 Introduce a public research funding code to ensure there is no commercial bias in research undertaken in Higher Education Institutions.
ED286 Require a binding commitment from universities not to accept donations from individuals or regimes that refuse to sign a statement on academic freedom that guarantees the right of academics and researchers in the ‘donor’ countries to teach and research without fear of state intervention.
Lifelong Learning (including Learning in the workplace and Retraining)
ED290 As stated in the Introduction the Green Party believes that life-long learning will help to create a healthy society.
ED291 As adult education is constantly evolving it demands a flexible approach to new courses whilst ensuring core aspects of education are preserved even where enrolment is low.
ED292 Include adult and life long learning provision in the single community lead 10 year funding plan, as outlined in ED231.
ED293 There should be funded opportunities to study at any level at any stage of life. This is essential for the 21st century; it may be done increasingly on-line, but with local centres for study support groups and face-to-face meetings with tutors.
ED294 To promote accessibility it will be provided in town centres rather than in out of town universities where possible.
ED295 There will be a minimum requirement to provide free education for adults to learn essential literacy, numeracy and life skills including Parenting programmes, and to acquire skills and qualifications which will help them directly gain employment. This will include provision for distance and e-learning, following models such as that of the Open University.
ED296 Adult education should embrace and encourage learning for learning’s sake and as such funding for additional courses will be decided at a local level, without it having to be target-driven and focused only on qualifications.
ED297 Asylum Seekers to be given the right to free education.
Casualisation in Education
ED300 A Green government would aspire to stamping out casualisation in education. These contracts fail to meet the educational needs of students due to the inconsistency they introduce, and fail to provide for those delivering and supporting the curriculum. (See also ED238)
ED301 A Green government would seek to ensure that:
- All education employers commit to a rolling programme of fractionalisation to convert all regularly employed hourly paid staff to salaried employees over a two year period.
- All agency staff to be offered direct employment contracts.
Notes in this policy:
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.