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Why do we need a Campaign for Education in Brighton and Hove?
Education is under attack. We see this in the pressure of targets in the curriculum, in attempts to turn schools into academies without consultation of parents, staff and local people, and in severe cuts, financial chaos and privatisation in the further, higher and adult education sectors. But these are just symptoms of an on-going process of transformation of education which prioritises employability and seeks to apply the discipline of the market.
- For students, it means more standardised testing (even for early years), rote learning, larger classes, an increasingly polarized and fragmented education system and fees for further and higher education which are higher than many places in Europe.
- For teachers, it means more top-down prescription of how to teach, worsening of pay and conditions of employment, and unreliable judgements of performance and a devaluing of their professional expertise.
- For parents and the wider community, it means a less planned, more divided school system with some schools significantly better resourced and benefitting from more freedoms than others and increasing hidden costs of education (for instance, expensive uniforms and technology).
As part of this process, the influence of large commercial organisations is growing. They sponsor academy chains, run the governing bodies and influence the curriculum and how it is taught. They are not answerable locally and have no obligation to meet the needs of all young people. They are already finding ways of making financial gains from the state education system paid for by taxation.
We support the call for a National Campaign for Education. Locally we want to work to build alliances between all those working in education and their unions, children, students and parents, and with other related campaigns (e.g. the Charter for Primary Education, the Campaign for State Education, the Campaign for the Public University, Too much Too soon Campaign) to fight for education as a public good rather than a business opportunity.
Locally, we want to provide a focus and a forum for debate and activity in campaigning for an education system that is:
- inclusive, and designed to meet the needs of all, from early years to adult avoiding damaging notions of fixed ability and associated labelling;
- planned and managed, through local collaboration rather than competition and in the widest public interest;
- democratically accountable to communities, students and staff through (for instance) elected representatives and open meetings;
- publicly funded and providing a high quality equitable service, free at the point of delivery;
- delivered by trained and qualified staff, with professional autonomy over curricula and assessment and working in the interests of learners.
We are committed to working with anyone who shares these ideas and values and to support local campaigns which share these aims.