In order to secure the support of almost everyone involved in education, a popular manifesto commitment would be a moratorium on the current marketisation of the education system in England pending a fundamental debate on the purpose and character of education in the 21st century.
Such debate should be framed by the old African saying “it takes a village to raise a child” – emphasising the need for full community engagement in education. Another saying “you don’t fatten a pig by weighing it”, would place the emphasis on needs of the child rather than the current obsession with testing and inspection. Add the Owenite belief that education is about developing well-rounded citizens — not simply economic needs.
A wider checklist would include:
• Recognition of the rapid development of co-operative schools of recent years — and the potential for co-operative models throughout the education system, including further education, higher education and nursery education.
• A right to nursery education, not just subsidised childcare.
• A requirement for democratic accountability and control of academies by their stakeholders including a right for school students to be consulted on curriculum and school organisation issues.
• A commitment that state funded education will not extend to for profit providers.
• Equal status for vocational and academic qualifications and recognition of skills development as well as knowledge acquisition.
• And, raising rather than undermining the professional status of teaching.