Academies

Labour: rebuild the welfare state

Author: 

Gemma Short

The welfare state created by the 1945 Labour government was a little bit of the “political economy of the working class” carved out of a still capitalist economy (a phrase Karl Marx first used to describe the victory of the fight for a ten-hour working day).

To some extent the ruling class has been forced to accept a minimal level of state provision. There is a constant battle over what proportion of profits is redirected, over who should receive support, and what sort of support is given. The ruling class has been winning that battle for some time.

The Labour manifesto is a significant shift from decades of neo-liberal consensus where the “political economy of the ruling class”, the rule of the market in every aspect of our lives, has almost destroyed the “political economy of the working class” carved out of capitalism in the shape of the welfare state.

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The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

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Tories seek mandate to increase cuts, inequality, poverty

Author: 

Martin Thomas

“Mrs May”, writes the Tory-leaning columnist of the Financial Times, Janan Ganesh, “could not survive an election campaign saying so little so often if people paid attention”. Since so many don’t, “the repetition of slogans in lieu of answers carries no cost”. Fraser Nelson, another Tory, comments in the Spectator: “She seems to think that, if you refuse to give the press anything, the public won’t care. Worse, she seems to be right – for now, at least”. May’s purpose, so Nelson writes, is not to “seek a mandate”, but to evade one.

The Daily Mail front page headline on 19 April summed up how Theresa May sees the election serving her Brexit drive: “Crush the saboteurs”. That is, strengthen her position against all who ask questions, raise criticisms, demand information.

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Industrial news in brief

Author: 

Ollie Moore, Charlotte Zalens, Peggy Carter, Michael Elms and Gemma Short

Tube workers’ union RMT has announced its members on stations will strike again from 6 February unless London Underground bosses meet its demands for an increased staffing level. The company’s latest proposal is to reinstate 250 of the jobs it cut under the “Fit for the Future” programme, but RMT has rejected the offer as insufficient.

Tube workers plan further strikes; Tories backing Southern’s war; Derby teaching assistants fight 25% pay cut; Picturehouse cinema strike solidarity; BA cabin crew strike again; teachers fight unfair scrutiny; Kings cleaners’ strike ballot.

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Ofsted prefers middle-class schools

Author: 

Elizabeth Butterworth

Research on Ofsted points to endemic problems in the schools system and inspection regime. Last week, the Education Policy Institute (EPI) released important findings about the fairness of Ofsted reports in England. They found a “systematic negative correlation” between schools with children from poorer backgrounds or lower prior attainment and positive Ofsted judgments.

Schools across England are facing 8% cuts, or 15% in some inner city areas, and despite valiant campaigns from a few, the fightback against these is nowhere near big enough to succeed. The schools system has been hollowed out by the Tories, and schoolworkers, parents and students must work together to get back some control.

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A vicious circle in schools

Author: 

Gerry Bates

Between half-term of summer 2016 and Xmas 2016, over half the maths teachers in the London secondary school where I teach will have quit.

The maths department is more stable than most. Our science department, for example, went through almost a Year Zero in 2015, with almost a complete turnover of staff. And our school is probably more stable than most in low-income areas of London.

Exams which are mindless drill; school management designed above all to mould teachers and students to that drill; and high teacher turnover are all parts of the same vicious circle.

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Tories drop Education Bill

Author: 

Pat Murphy, National Union of Teachers Executive (personal capacity)

On 27 October, the government announced that it would drop plans for a new Education Bill any time before summer 2017.

In his last budget statement as Chancellor, George Osborne had announced that all schools in England would be forced to convert to academy status by 2022. The following day, 17 March, the then education secretary Nicky Morgan published a White Paper which outlined the variety of ways in which this goal would be achieved.

Labour should commit to bringing all schools back into a democratic locally-run comprehensive education service and ending the academy experiment.

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No to school uniforms!

Author: 

Martin Thomas

Hartsdown Academy, in Kent, sent 50 students home on the first day of term for “incorrect” school uniform.

Nervous 11-year-olds on their first day in big school were turned away because of quibbles about their socks, or buckles on their shoes.Yet the headteacher and the academy chain bosses are defiantly self-righteous. They want to stop the school being “scruffy”.

There is no evidence that wearing costly, awkward, and weird clothes helps learning. School uniforms are unknown in Finland, which comes top in world assessments, and in France and Germany.

School-age children and young people have little enough liberty. Being able to dress as they like is one area where they can have liberty without risk of hurting themselves or anyone else.

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Teachers and lecturers strike and protest on 5 July

Author: 

Peggy Carter and Ben Tausz

Teachers struck on Tuesday 5 July in a well supported national strike for guaranteed terms and conditions across all schools, increased funding to schools, and the resumption of negotiations on teacher workload.

The strike saw large protests. The march in London was overwhelmingly young, and many young teachers told Solidarity sellers that they had joined the Labour Party in the past year.

On Tuesday 5 July, UCU members at 33 universities walked out to coincide with the teachers’ national strike against school funding cuts.

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Teachers: all out on 5 July!

Author: 

Patrick Murphy, National Union of Teachers Executive (personal capacity)

Members of the largest teaching, union, the NUT, will take strike action on 2 July in England to demand nationally agreed terms and conditions for all teachers in all state-funded local authority and academy schools.

Members of the largest teaching, union, the NUT, will take strike action on 2 July in England to demand nationally agreed terms and conditions for all teachers in all state-funded local authority and academy schools.

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Lewisham fights academisation... again

Last year, teachers, students and parents in Lewisham ran a campaign that successfully fought off the threat of academisation to four schools in the borough. Activists were confident that this left them in a good position to launch a vibrant campaign against the government’s proposals for forced-academisation contained in the recent White Paper, Educational Excellence Everywhere.

Teachers, parents and students are fighting back against the conversion of schools into “exam factories”, with “success” measured by grades and the amount of money siphoned off to the bosses and their cronies.

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