Pre-school education

What should Labour do about schools?


David Pendletone

As in so many areas Labour's 2017 manifesto marked a welcome and significant sea change in the party’s direction and vocabulary on education.

Gone was the talk of driving up standards by competition, increased observation and punishment of teachers who didn’t make the grade. Instead there were welcome commitments to establish a National Education Service (NES), ensure democratic control of schools, and restore funding cuts and genuine commitments to fund further education and Early Years provision better.

Industrial news in brief

Tube cleaners employed by contractor ISS have returned to work, after a months-long lock out.

Workers were locked out of work without pay for refusing to use biometric fingerprinting machines.

ISS, which has a history of using immigration law against its mainly-migrant workforce, had openly admitted that the data collected would be shared with the UK Border Agency.

The locked-out cleaners have been given a number of options, including returning to work on alternative contracts without biometric fingerprinting.

Save Newcastle's Children's Centres

Sure Start Children’s Centre services in Newcastle are facing a two thirds cut in funding over the next three years.

The proposals will mean closure of services, buildings, parents groups, activities for young children. It will mean at least 100 jobs will be lost across the council and the voluntary sector, opportunities for children and parents will continue to be worsened after significant cuts already since 2010. Many families will be even more isolated following the axing of the council’s play and youth services last year.

Aimless toddlers?

Elizabeth Truss, Tory Childcare Minster, says toddlers in nurseries “run around aimlessly”. She says they should be in a more structured environment, learning the skills they will need when they get to “big school” (i.e. reception class).

Who is this woman? Has she ever met a toddler and what is she going on about?

Fight Sheffield early years cuts

On 4 December, Sheffield City Council announced a “redesign” to Sheffield’s Early Years services (including both public and voluntary sector nurseries and children’s centres).

This will mean cuts in front line provision serving 9000 people in Sheffield, reducing the 36 sites to 17 "areas", the removal of statutory funding to 16 voluntary sector services, the effective removal of funding for one and two year olds across Sheffield, and at least 150 redundancies.

Save Sure Start!

On Thursday 19 April, a colourful and noisy protest of 250 women, children and men, plus teddy bears and balloons took place in opposition to cuts in Sure Start nursery care provision in Liverpool.

The council is planning to cut close 10 of 26 Sure Start centres. This will mean job cuts as well as the devastation of childcare services people rely on.

Private nurseries are over subscribed so many parent are worried they cannot continue to work or study.

Higher Child Benefit for "better parents"?

A report by a think tank linked to the Lib Dems has suggested that parents who pass a parenting test should be paid more in Child Benefit.

Those who can show they have completed a "five-a-day" programme - reading with their child for 15 minutes, playing for 10 minutes, talking with the television off for 20 minutes, giving praise and providing a nutritious diet - should it suggests receive extra money on top of their Child Benefit.

Stubbornness wins! How Springdale Nursery was saved

Stubbornness wins


On Tuesday 8 March 1994, the labour council in Islington, North London, voted to reopen Springdale nursery. This was the result of over 15 months’ campaigning against the closure of the nursery. Victories against cuts are rare enough these days to make this one worth study. It is a small victory: the money involved is only about 0.1 per cent of the council’s budget. To defeat the far bigger cuts being pushed through by councils and central government, we will need a much bigger scale of action.

Childcare battle in Hackney

An activist from Friends of Hackney Nurseries spoke to Solidarity

Hackney is relatively well-endowed with nursery places. A lot of that is to do with struggles that were fought and won in the 1970s and 80s by feminists and community activists, who set up community nurseries and got funding for them.

Since then it’s been a constant struggle to defend those gains.

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