At the heart of the education debate are questions about values, what we mean by a “good” education.
I was educated in the private sector, but I have chosen a community education for my own children. Why? Education should be inclusive and equip everyone to participate fully in society and lead a fulfilled life. We should reject market driven models of education based on creating units to compete in a global marketplace.
Tristram Hunt is right that there is a corrosive divide in education. But his policy would do nothing to address it. Labour’s proposals mean taxpayers would still subsidise private schools and prop up the privatisation of education. The private system would still be idealised as something to aspire to. The market-driven models that successive Governments have promoted with their cultures of over-testing and league tables, would be reinforced. An understanding that education should be about human flourishing, would be further away than ever.
We need a child-centred approach to learning that builds on the skills and interests of each child. Education should be at the heart of communities and for communities, and should promote equality, inclusivity, social and emotional well-being and responsibility. It should be democratically accountable.
Under Green party proposals schools that remain in the private sector, and hold the values of business, would be classed as a business. They would 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.
Jonathan Barley is the Green Party prospective parliamentary candidate for Streatham, south London